Undercounting population could cost Nevada millions

The U.S. Census Bureau will appeal to Nevadans' independent nature in promoting the 2010 census, hoping to miss fewer people than in previous counts.

"We're not going to pitch this as a federal mandate," David Byerman, chief government liaison for Nevada for the U.S. Department of Commerce, told the Carson City Board of Supervisors on Thursday. "We are approaching this as local, grass roots, counting this for the sake of Nevada."

Nevada gets federal funds based on population totals, and missing people in the census count costs the state millions of dollars.

In the 1990 census, 28,431 Nevadans were missed, out of a population of 1,236,130. That represented 2.3 percent.

In 2000, of a total population of 1,998,257, there were 33,570 Nevadans missed, for a 1.68 percent undercount, he said.

The estimated population in 2010 is 2,801,551. If the undercount is 1.68 percent, Nevada would lose out on $43.2 million annually, Byerman said. If the undercount is even worse, at 2.3 percent, the impact would be a loss of $59.1 million annually, he said.

"Many funding formulas are census-based. We want to create a complete count for the (Eagle Valley)," he said. "Reno and Las Vegas are already building campaigns, but we want (Carson City) to take the lead in this area."

According to the Nevada State Data Center, the State Demographer's Office and the Legislative Counsel Bureau, every Nevadan missed by the Census Bureau in 2010 translates to $917 per person per year.

The census can benefit Nevada through representation in Congress, electoral votes and redistricting of the Legislature. It also creates about 4,000 jobs for Nevadans who will be hired in 2010. The government has already hired 1,340 for an address canvassing operation.

Supervisor Shelly Aldean expressed concern that people might be worried about identity theft.

Byerman said all census workers take an oath to safeguard all information, even from government agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Homeland Security, for

72 years.

Aldean said that in some cases, in previous counts, questions were "invasive and not relevant."

Byerman said the 2010 census will be less intimidating.

"The long form is gone," he said. "They've gone to a short form with 10 questions only."

The board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution giving full support to the 2010 census campaign.

In other matters, the board:

• Adopted a resolution for financing of $9.4 million to build clean, renewable energy projects for the city, specifically all-electric solar panels for eight to 10 city buildings.

"We will be able to meet payment obligations based on (power) savings and also rebates from NV Energy," said Public Works Director Andy Burnham.

• Heard an update from the city's Office of Business Development on the success of the 2007 Urban Land Institute's recommendations for revitalizing the capital city.

• Authorized the issuance of $2.9 million in medium-term obligation bonds to finance the cost of ambulances, sewer improvements and storm drainage improvements for the city.

• Passed an ordinance for the issuance of an additional $3.4 million general obligation bonds for improvements to the city's water system.

• Accepted a $100,000 grant from the Nevada Department of Wildlife to complete the Urban Fishing Pond at Fuji Park.

• Presented proclamations recognizing Carson City 18-year-olds Tatum Boehnke and Ryan Hogan, who became the first Nevadans to successfully swim across the English Channel. They completed the swim in 10 hours and 40 minutes on June 13.


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