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Census officials: Successful challenge a longshot

generic census form

Officials with the U.S. Census Bureauwarned Detroit City Council members today that challenges to the ten-year Census results are rarely successful.

Detroit is hoping to add 36,000 people to its total. But in 2000, only 2,700 people were added to the rolls after all challenges in the country were complete. That’s 2,700 people in a nation of 281 million people.

Given those odds, the city should be careful about how much effort it puts into a challenge, saysCity Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown:

"I’m convinced of this: that there was an undercount. But I’m not convinced that the resources it would take to prove that are worth talking city employees off of jobs that they’re doing that are much more important to the future of the city than doing a recount."

Brown says the city’s limited resources need to be used to keep people safe and improve education. He says those are the things driving people out of the city.

At 713,777, the 2010 Census showed Detroit's population dropped 25 percent over ten years.

Census officials say it’s much easier to challenge Census estimates. The next population estimates will come out in 2011.

The city council’s budget analyst says there will be some dire financial consequences for the city if state laws are not changed to reflect Detroit’s lower population. He says the city stands to lose $109 million in income taxes, $50 million in utility taxes, and $15 million in state revenue sharing.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.
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