WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — You count when it comes to schools. You count when it comes to road construction. You count for your city.
It’s been 10 years since the last U.S. Census was conducted, and West Palm Beach's mayor knows how important it is to make sure no neighborhood is forgotten.
If you live in the city of West Palm Beach, you likely have received flyers with your utility bills to remind you about the U.S. Census.
"It’s been estimated that for every person who does not complete the census, that costs the city $2,000. So over a 10-year period, that’s $20,000 that we are losing as a city," said Mayor Keith James.
Alex Hansen, the city’s comprehensive planner, said they noticed a discrepancy in the census count 10 years ago. The population at the time, he said, was counted to be just under 100,000 people living in the city.
"We identified that there was a section of the city that had not been identified as being within our city limits, so that added another 700 people to the city’s count," said Hansen.
700 people does not seem like a lot, but multiply that by 2,000, and then by 10 for the next 10 years, and that amounts to $14 million the city would have lost in funds over the last decade.
"It really strains our resources. What is critical is that these are not only the resources for one year that we are going to be getting from the federal government, these numbers are going to be set in stone for the next decade," said Hansen.
Hansen said he’s made contact with several neighborhoods to ease their concerns over the census.
"One of the issues has to do with the undocumented population. There’s some concern that the results of the census may be used to identify people in our city that are undocumented. That is not the case so we are making sure that people know the results of the census are confidential," said Hansen.
The expectation is that the population in West Palm Beach has grown up to 16 percent in the last decade.
"Every dollar counts. We are growing very rapidly so to have money to put into our streets, to have better schools, and basically to have better quality of life , that’s going to be very important," said Mayor James.