Scottsdale is urging residents to fill out U.S. census forms that will arrive in their mailboxes today to help determine the city’s future share of state tax revenue.
However, because the city’s population growth has been slower than that of the state, officials said it’s likely Scottsdale will lose money regardless.
"For every person in the city, we get money back from the state, and to a lesser degree, the federal government," said Mike Phillips, spokesman for the city. "So it’s a really important process."
One of every 13 households in Maricopa County will receive the U.S. Census Bureau survey. The results will be used to determine how much tax revenue towns and cities get back from the state over the next five years.
Scottsdale’s current population is conservatively projected at about 235,000. Phillips said. The city now receives about $230 for each person, annually. Over the next five years that could mean $3.6 million in shared revenue, he said.
But Scottsdale’s growth rate has been 2.1 percent since 2000, the last national census, said Kelley Taft, spokeswoman for the Maricopa Association of Governments. Over the same period, the state’s growth rate has been 3.1 percent, she said.
"The rule of thumb that we’ve been following is that if a jurisdiction is growing faster than the state since the 2000 census, it will probably gain money over what it currently receives," Taft said. "If it’s growing slower, it could lose money."
Taft said she wouldn’t know how much shared revenue Scottsdale will lose until survey data is reviewed. But city officials are aware of what the numbers could mean — and the city could lose even more if too many people ignore the survey.
Because of the money at stake, city officials won’t let survey slackers rest easy.
If the survey is not returned within two weeks, a second one will be automatically sent in September. If there’s still no response, census workers will follow up with phone calls or home visits.
The survey is easy to fill out and should take about six minutes to complete, Taft said. It has nine questions in English and Spanish. The name, age and sex of each person in the household including children, relatives and friends, needs to be included. A sample of the survey is available at www.census2000.com, though only people sent the survey will be allowed to complete it.
"If people who receive the survey fill it out and return it right away, they’ll actually save their community money in terms of follow-up costs," Taft said.