The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Cary Brunswick

December 29, 2009

’10 Census likely to cause area dustups

Three months from now, households across the nation should have received their packets in the mail from the U.S. Census Bureau.

But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any easier in this decennial count to make sure everybody is tracked down _ or is in the place where they’re supposed to be.

The forms for the 2010 Census are supposed to be short and simple, with only 10 questions. They ask how many people are living in each household, what their names are, and to identify heads of households, genders and races. Except for variations on those questions, that’s basically it.

It will be one of the shortest forms ever, and will not be asking anything about income or if you still use an outhouse.

It should be easy, except that the forms are supposed to be returned in April. If they are not, the bureau has to send fieldworkers out during the summer to get them.

Regardless, it seems like there are always surprises _ and also controversy _ every 10 years after yet another count.

And because so much federal and state grant money is contingent on population and demographics, communities are forced to care what the census has to say.

City of Oneonta leaders, for example, had a fit after the 2000 Census showed the city’s population had declined by 662 people since the 1990 count. People were obviously missed, they insisted, and the city filed a challenge.

Census officials apparently incorrectly recorded both the number and the distribution of city residents during the 2000 count, and then-Mayor Kim Muller blasted the bureau by saying there were such big errors that city officials lacked confidence in any of the numbers.

Unfortunately for the city, the Census Bureau stood by its total population figure of 13,292, though it adjusted the numbers for several wards and later did boost the total to 13,314.

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Cary Brunswick

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