Leader Blues

Saturday, October 28, 2006

TOP STORY >>Cabot starts census next Thursday

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Seventy census workers will hit the streets Thursday, going door to door to acquire information from each household for Cabot’s special census.

Karen Davis, operations director for the city of Cabot, said the city decided to hold a special census to determine its current population.

“The 2000 Census population count was 15,261,” Davis said. “Metroplan has it estimated at 21,575 currently, a huge jump in six years. We knew we had a growth in population from our school enrollment and building permit in-crease.”
A certified official population increase resulting from the Special Census may produce an increase in state revenue sharing or other benefits.

“It could help Cabot as a city because of the number of people we have,” Davis said. “It could really send more money our way.”

The city stands to gain $1.3 million in turnback funds from a special census; that is an annual gain of $305,000, starting in 2007, until the results of the 2010 regular census are released in 2011. The figure is based on Metroplan’s 2005 population estimate of 19,967 residents in Cabot.

The additional state turnback funds, money off gas taxes based on population, should start coming in sometime after the census is completed, Davis said.

Collecting data will take one month and processing the data and certifying the results will take another two or three months, placing the completion of the census sometime in February or March.

Of the money received from the census, Davis said 75 percent would go to the city’s general fund – police and fire departments, and public works; the remaining 25 percent would go in the city’s street fund to help repair the damage done due to the strain of increased population.

Census workers (enumerators), all of which will be identified by a badge from the U.S. Census Bureau that includes their name, will be asking households a series of questions during the evenings and on Saturdays, taking a maximum of seven minutes of the residents’ time. The census workers are using the U.S. Census Bureau’s short-form questionnaire, which has six population questions and one housing question.

The Special Census will produce demographic detail for the Cabot population, including new housing and population that came into the area after Census 2000. It will collect information such as age, gender, relationships within households, race and Hispanic origin, and whether the residents own or rent. Information from individual household questionnaires is summarized into neighborhood and community-level data that can be used to plan for and seek funding for vital community needs.

Davis said there would be a total of four attempts made to gather information from every household in the Cabot city limits.
“If people don’t answer, they will keep coming back until they get someone,” Davis said. “If, after three attempts by workers and one trip by a supervisor, there is still no contact, they will talk with neighbors to see who and how many people live in that residence.”

Davis hopes all citizens will cooperate with information re-quested by the census workers, saying it’s all strictly confidential.