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This small Arizona city says a census undercount will cost it $800,000 a year

In southwest Arizona, the city of Somerton could lose $800,000 dollars of state shared revenue annually based on a population decrease in the 2020 census. Officials with the Yuma-area city say the numbers are wrong and faulted the data-gathering methods.

City Manager Jerry Cabrera cites several factors that may have caused an under-count. He says many households may have dismissed the online survey, and that he is not aware of any census workers who went door-to-door in the area. He says if they did go door-to-door, they were likely to not receive an answer.

The data was collected during the pandemic, and Somerton had many positive COVID-19 cases. He says this could have caused residents to avoid answering the door out of fear of being contaminated or concern of contaminating others.

The Census Bureau does not send forms to P.O. boxes, which Cabrera says 95% of Somerton residents use.

“Our decrease in population has not occurred. They’re telling us that we have 14,000 residents. Our calculations and information that the state sends us is closer to over 18,000-plus,” said Cabrera.

Cabrera says the decrease in funds will prevent more public-safety investments. He says the city does plan to file an appeal, but is not eligible for a recount until 2025.

Reyna Preciado started her internship with KJZZ in August 2021. She is a senior at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, focusing on community-related stories.She previously had been pursuing a major in biochemistry, but switched directions after becoming a server. During her time serving, she found that so many people had stories to share and so many voices deserved to be heard.She loved to write in her AP English classes in high school, so she made the decision to use her writing and communication skills to major in broadcast journalism. It was always a dream of hers to become a news anchor after being cast as an anchor in a fourth-grade newscast. It was silly, but it stuck with her, and she was eager to follow her dream when she was finally inspired to change directions. Now, she continues being inspired by the many voices within her community that have been waiting for an opportunity to be able to address what's important to them.When she is not working on a story, she likes to cook, sing and hang out with her crazy toddler.