Low reporting and inaccurate numbers on the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census could cost the region nearly $7.63 million in transportation funding over the next decade, the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization said Tuesday. The decennial survey, which is scheduled to begin on April 1, 2020, will count the current population and use this data to calculate future federal funding for many programs, among other uses.
The count was discussed on Tuesday as a part of the SDMPO’s June policy board meeting, and in addition to funding for road and transportation projects, county officials warned that the impact of the census could affect a myriad of programs on the county level.
“I want this board and everyone to understand how important this census is to Grayson County,” Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said. “Traditionally, our counts are under counted because of political pressure from the south. The big boys don’t want to keep the money and don’t want to acknowledge the growth happening in Grayson County.”
SDMPO Executive Director Clay Barnett said about 76 percent of people in the region responded to the census in 2010. Through these estimates, Grayson County is estimated to have a population of about 126,000. In actuality, MPO and state research suggests the population in this area is closer to 135,000, Barnett said.
“They don’t only take this and use it for the base year, but they project it out for 10 years to come,” he said.
Barnett said this alone represents a seven percent loss in population even before the count has officially started. This also changes the growth rate for the region from the 0.4 percent annual growth projected by the census to about 1.2 percent estimated by the MPO.
Some areas, including Denison and Tom Bean have been good in the past about having high participation, Barnett said. Others, like Sherman, have been less successful. Barnett estimated that about 30 percent of east Sherman did not respond to the census in 2010.
“I think that is something we can definitely work towards,” Sherman Mayor David Plyler said. “It is a matter of education.”
Reasons for not submitting the census responses has varied over the years. Traditionally fear of the government having personal data has been the top reason, but now it is simply not caring about the county, Barnett said.
If rates of participation stay the same, Barnett said the MPO stands to miss out on about $507,000 in 2021 with the discrepancy growing each year. By 2030, this loss of funds is estimated at $1.03 million for the year, with a total of $7.63 million for the decade.
By comparison, if the numbers are off by 10 percent, Magers estimated that by 2030 the county could miss out on more than $200 million from everything from transporation to Medicaid funding.
Barnett noted that the $7.63 million may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of some projects, but the MPO has been able to leverage these funds to get support from state and federal sources for major projects. The upcoming improvement to U.S. Highway 75 from Farm-to-Market Road 1417 to State Highway 91, and improvements to the US 75 and U.S. Highway 82 interchange are among the projects where local funds secured funding.
The census documents are expected to be mailed out to residents in late March, and online responses will be accepted starting on April 1. The U.S. Census Bureau will also accept mail-in and phone responses, with a deadline of July 24, 2020.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter. He can be reached at MHutchins@HeraldDemocrat.com.