This small Arizona city says a census undercount will cost it $800,000 a year

By Reyna Preciado
Published: Tuesday, November 30, 2021 - 8:07am
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In southwest Arizona, the city of Somerton could lose $800,000 dollars of state shared revenue annually based on a population decrease in the 2020 census. Officials with the Yuma-area city say the numbers are wrong and faulted the data-gathering methods.

City Manager Jerry Cabrera cites several factors that may have caused an under-count. He says many households may have dismissed the online survey, and that he is not aware of any census workers who went door-to-door in the area. He says if they did go door-to-door, they were likely to not receive an answer.

The data was collected during the pandemic, and Somerton had many positive COVID-19 cases. He says this could have caused residents to avoid answering the door out of fear of being contaminated or concern of contaminating others.

The Census Bureau does not send forms to P.O. boxes, which Cabrera says 95% of Somerton residents use.

“Our decrease in population has not occurred. They’re telling us that we have 14,000 residents. Our calculations and information that the state sends us is closer to over 18,000-plus,” said Cabrera.

Cabrera says the decrease in funds will prevent more public-safety investments. He says the city does plan to file an appeal, but is not eligible for a recount until 2025.