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Steamboat’s low census response would harm funding

Crew leader assistant Jeff Levin, left, talks with crew leader Catherine Leitess before heading into the field to verify information for the U.S. Census Bureau.
John F. Russell

Who to call

If you haven’t been counted for the 2010 census and would like to be, call the Grand Junction Census office at 970-361-3690.

Online

Visit to http://www.2010.census.gov or http://www.census.gov.

By the numbers

Census figures as of April 27

Steamboat Springs: 38 percent

Hayden: 65 percent

Oak Creek: 54 percent

Yampa: 59 percent

Routt County: 43 percent

Colorado: 70 percent

U.S.: 72 percent

  • Includes mail-only participation

Source: U.S. Census 2010

Who to call

If you haven’t been counted for the 2010 census and would like to be, call the Grand Junction Census office at 970-361-3690.

Online

Visit to http://www.2010.census.gov or http://www.census.gov.



By the numbers

Census figures as of April 27

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Steamboat Springs: 38 percent

Hayden: 65 percent

Oak Creek: 54 percent

Yampa: 59 percent

Routt County: 43 percent

Colorado: 70 percent

U.S.: 72 percent

  • Includes mail-only participation

Source: U.S. Census 2010

— Babette Dickson was shocked to hear that Steamboat Springs’ and Routt County’s 2010 census response rates were so low.

The Steamboat Springs High School French teacher also was shocked to learn what those low response rates could mean for the school district when a Census employee spoke last month at the National Education Association conference in New Orleans.

“The ripple effect of a low response can be very, very hard,” Dickson said. “It’s only every 10 years that we do that. We’ll be stuck with those numbers for 10 years.”

Kathleen DuHamel, the local census office manager for the office in Grand Junction, said census information affects the number of seats a state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“There’s also a lot of federal funding from the census data, which is attached to school districts, cities, towns, a number of entities that rely on federal funding,” she said. “The higher the population, the more funding communities in western Colorado can get.”

According to the 2010 census website, that information would help determine how more than $400 billion in federal funding is spent annually on hospitals, job training centers, senior centers, public works projects, emergency services and schools.

That doesn’t bode well for Steamboat and Routt County, at least according to the most recent census figures.

As of April 27, the most recent figures available, only 38 percent of Steamboat residents had responded to the 2010 census. In Routt County, the figure was slightly higher at 43 percent — bolstered by response rates of 65 percent in Hayden, 54 percent in Oak Creek and 59 percent in Yampa.

In contrast, the response rate in neighboring Moffat County was 63 percent. But several other resort communities also had low response rates — many lower than those in Routt County.

For instance, the response rates in Avon and Vail were 37 percent and 23 percent. In Breckenridge, the response rate was 22 percent. In Aspen, it was 37 percent. The response rates in the counties where those ski towns are located are slightly higher.

DuHamel said the most recent census figures were based on mail-only participation. She said efforts subsequent to receiving information by mail in the 37,000 square miles that the Grand Junction office covers have resulted in “considerably” higher figures in that area since April.

“I would say it’s dramatically different from that now, but I don’t have the exact numbers,” DuHamel said. “… I know it’s gone up considerably since then.”

Steamboat resident Cather­ine Leitess, a crew leader with the census in Steamboat, spent Thursday morning looking for potential duplicate residences, such as apartments that have a legal address that differs from their physical address. It was one of just many post-mail follow-ups that census workers have done in communities across the country.

She said the door-to-door interviews, mostly follow-ups with residents who didn’t mail their census forms, are done. So are vacant/delete checks, reviews of homes that on April 1 were vacant because the houses or apartments were unsold or unrented, not because no one was there. Leitess said second-home owners were deleted after the first round of follow-ups.

Now they’re reviewing the trickier cases, which will be followed by quality control checks. Those will help verify the accuracy of all census workers’ efforts.

Leitess said it’s difficult to count people in resort towns such as Steamboat, especially when most of that work is done during mud season. She said even now, four months after census day, many people are surprised to see her and other workers compiling and verifying information.

“People are grabbing me and saying, ‘I didn’t get counted. Where do I go?’” Leitess said.

Dickson said she just wanted to get the information to the community about the importance of the census count. She spoke to the Steamboat Springs School Board on Monday.

DuHamel said the Grand Junction office’s efforts were wrapping up. But she said the office would take calls from western Colorado residents who haven’t been counted until Aug. 20. The office can be reached at 970-361-3690.

“We will do everything possible to get them counted,” she said.


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