SWEET HOME — A low response rate from Sweet Home residents in the 2010 census is costing the state of Oregon almost $4 million annually in federal funds, Kirstin Stein of the U.S. Census Bureau told members of the City Council on Tuesday.

Stein said that 18% of the community’s residents did not participate in the 2010 census.

She said that based on a population of 6,900, that 18% would mean 1,242 residents did not participate. Based on about $3,200 per person in federal funds, that equals an annual loss of about $3.9 million.

Sweet Home's population is now about 9,000.

Stein added that 36% of the Linn County residents who rent rather than own a home did not participate.

“About 21% of senior citizens, people age 62 and older, did not participate and more than 6% of children did not either,” Stein said.

Stein said migrant workers tend to shy away from completing the census as well.

Stein said Oregon, like all other states, is gearing up for the 2020 census.

Some 480,000 U.S. homes will receive a census test questionnaire this week. Test results will help the Census Bureau determine nonresponding household percentages and how many census takers may be needed for follow-up interviews.

“We’re hiring like mad,” Stein said, promoting job possibilities for Sweet Home residents.

Stein said that for the first time, residents will have the option of completing their census online.

Learn more about the 2020 census and job opportunities at https://www.census.gov/partners/2020.html.

In other business, the council:

• Revisited the subject of internal service funds to be used in the 2019-20 budget. All departments within the city will now pay into the fund, which will pay for overall administration of the city. The budget — which included the internal service fund proposal — has already been approved by the City Council, but Tuesday evening, councilors Lisa Gourley, Diane Gerson and James Goble voted against approving a resolution that would put the service fund in place. Mayor Greg Mahler and councilors Susan Coleman and David Trask voted in favor. After considerable discussion about processes in the future, a second vote was taken and all six councilors were in favor of the ordinance. Councilor Courtney Nash was absent.

• Approved a contract with the Salem accounting firm of Grove, Mueller & Swank not to exceed $30,000 for next fiscal year’s audit. The current audit cost $27,000.

• Approved a contract with Cascade Timber Consulting Services to act as consultants concerning trees within the city. Public Works Director Greg Springman said the city owns 387 acres of parks and facility properties, much of which has standing timber, plus 45 miles of road right of way. Springman said Cascade Timber will help the city identify and mitigate hazardous trees, thereby improving public safety. Cascade Timber's decades of experience and contacts may be useful if the city plans any timber sales.

Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.


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