Goodyear gearing up for 2020 Census

City continues to engage residents on importance of being counted

By Kelly O'Sullivan, Independent Newsmedia
Posted 3/3/20

Many city programs and services like recreation programming, parks maintenance and development, police and fire, and street repairs and maintenance, among others, depend on population-based …

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Goodyear gearing up for 2020 Census

City continues to engage residents on importance of being counted

Posted

Many city programs and services like recreation programming, parks maintenance and development, police and fire, and street repairs and maintenance, among others, depend on population-based allocations from four state shared revenues (sales, income, vehicle license and gas taxes). The more money Goodyear receives from its piece of the shared state revenue pie as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau's 10-year population count, the more programs and services it can provide for residents.

Based on 2010 Census results, Goodyear receives $343 per person in state shared revenue annually, which equaled about $25.6 million in fiscal 2020, nearly a quarter of the city’s general fund budget.

Results of the 2020 Census could change cities’ annual per-person allocation, so an accurate count is critical. The 2010 Census recorded Goodyear’s population as 65,275. In 2018, an estimated 82,835 people called the city home. City Manager Julie Arendall said 2019 estimates put the population at just under 89,000.

“Census 2020 will confirm that,” Ms. Arendall said in a March 2 telephone interview during which she and City Planner Christian M. Williams, a leader on Goodyear’s Complete Count Committee, discussed the importance of 2020 Census results.

“Goodyear is growing extremely rapidly,” she said, noting the city has experienced a growth rate between 3% and 4% per year.

In addition to ensuring that cities get their fair share of revenues, the decennial count is required by law. The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, and it has been conducted every 10 years since 1790, when 650 U.S. marshals carried out the first count. This year, the U.S. Census Bureau will employ thousands of census-takers, and thousands of volunteers are helping inform the public.

Other Census impacts

The impact of the Census is widespread, including:

  • Congressional representation. A larger population may mean a larger voice in Congress. A fast-growing state like Arizona could pick up another seat in the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives based on the 2020 count.
  • States’ share of $675 billion in federal tax revenue distribution. Arizona receives $2,959 per person in federal dollars annually, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That money funds everything from Medicare and other healthcare programs for children and adults, to Head Start and school lunches, to road, highway and other infrastructure projects. For every Arizonan who isn’t uncounted, the state stands to lose $887 in federal funding, according to azcensus2020.gov, the state’s informational website on the 2020 Census. If just 1% of the state’s population is undercounted, Arizona would lose $62 million annually, for a total loss of $620 million through 2030, the website states.
  • Commerce. Businesses use the data collected to determine where to open new stores, restaurants, factories and offices, where to expand operations, where to recruit employees and which products and services to offer.
  • Real estate. Developers use census data to decide where and what type of housing to build based on population count and community demographics.
  • Grassroots. Residents use census data to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.

Who should be counted?

Everyone living in the residence as of Wednesday, April 1, National Census Day, should be included when responders fill out their census forms.

“In Goodyear, we have a lot of winter residents, especially Canadians,” Mr. Williams said. “They can take the census on April 1.”

The 2020 Census questionnaire asks responders to report the number of people living in their household, permanently or temporarily, and whether they rent or own the home. It also asks for the names, ages, dates of birth, genders and race of those living in the household, and whether they are of Hispanic, Latin or Spanish origin. It does not ask for citizenship status. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2019 it was unconstitutional to include a citizenship question on the Census questionnaire.

Responses to the census are completely confidential. Under title 13 of the U.S. Code, the U.S. Census Bureau cannot share census data with any other person, organization, court, business or government agency.

Getting the word out

Goodyear is informing residents about the census in a variety of ways, including via its website and social media, as well as good, old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. For more information on the city’s census outreach, visit goodyearaz.gov and click on “Residents” then “Census 2020.”

The city’s Complete Count Committee was formed in March 2019, with members from geographically diverse communities: Palm Valley and PebbleCreek in the north; Canyon Trails, Estrella Vista and historic areas in the heart of town; and Estrella and CantaMia in southern Goodyear.

Sporting bright yellow vests emblazoned with “iCount 2020 Goodyear, AZ Count Me In!”, committee members also have donned costumes and red, white and blue cowboy hats and taken the message to residents at events including homeowners meetings, the 2019 Hop and Hops, Star Spangled 4th, Fall Festival and Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods (GAIN) events, and 2020’s Heart and Sole 5K 1 mile run and fun walk.

“It’s a great, engaged group of residents,” Ms. Arendall said.

As the count gets under way — residents can begin responding to the census questionnaire online, by phone or by mail as soon as they receive their letters in the mail over the next few weeks — the committee will continue attending events, and take the city’s Topics on the Move van to key spots, including shopping centers.

“We’re really hoping to go to where the community is,” Mr. Williams said, noting the committee will work with shopping center owners for best visibility at each site.

Residents who visit the van or the committee’s booth at events can fill out their census questionnaires online right then; committee members will be equipped with mobile devices for use by the public.

This is the first time the census has offered an online option for responders.

“It’s historic,” Ms. Arendall said. “We are really hoping for a large self-response rate.”

The 2020 Census timeline

The Census Bureau will begin accepting responses online, by phone and by mail Thursday, March 12, and it will continue to accept responses through Friday, July 31, when the count officially ends. Here’s what people can expect over the next few months, per the Census Bureau:

Thursday, March 12-Tuesday March 24: Letters with detailed instructions on how to respond will be mailed to households with mail delivery. They will be addressed to “Resident,” not by name.

Thursday, March 26-Friday, April 3: Reminder postcards will be mailed to those who haven’t responded.

Monday, March 30-Wednesday, April 1: Census workers will conduct a three-day homeless count at shelters, soup kitchens and mobile food vans, on the streets, and at non-sheltered, outdoor locations such as tent encampments.

Wednesday, April 1: Census Day will be observed nationwide. Every home with mail delivery should have received an invitation to participate by that date. In rural areas without mail delivery, about 5% of the nation’s households, door-to-door delivery will begin Monday, March 16 and will continue through Friday, April 10.

Wednesday, April 8-Thursday, April 16: Reminder letters and paper questionnaires will be mailed to those who haven’t responded.

April: Census-takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, military personnel living in barracks, people living in senior centers and others who live among large groups of people. Census-takers also will begin conducting quality-check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.

Monday, April 20-Monday, April 27: Final reminder postcards will be mailed to those who haven’t responded.

May-July: Census-takers will begin visiting households that haven’t responded to help ensure everyone is counted.

Friday, July 31: Last day of the count.

Residents can identify census-takers in their neighborhoods by their ID badge, which will include the worker’s name, photo, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. They also will carry a bag and a Census Bureau-issued electronic device, such as a laptop or smartphone, with the official census logo. If people have questions about a census-taker’s identity, they can call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative for verification.

Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at kosullivan@newszap.com or 760-963-1697.

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