In the 1990 U.S. Census, Doña Ana County’s population was reported at 135,510, but Census officials believe the population was undercounted by approximately 4,500 people. Given that federal funds are administered to counties and municipalities according to actual Census figures, the estimated undercount has cost nearly $7.5 million in loss of federal revenue to Doña Ana County since 1990.
As the county continues to grow, county government is saddled with the responsibility of supporting a wide variety of programs that depend on maximizing federal financial assistance.
In Doña Ana County, the federal government contributes to programs ranging from health care for women, infants and children to Head Start and other educational programs, as well as water and wastewater treatment facilities, electric distribution systems, telephone loans, public transportation, emergency shelters, various housing programs and a host of rural development grants.
Many of these programs use county government as the fiscal agent through which the federal dollars are administered locally.
Ruben Ceballos, community partnership specialist for the 2000 Census, said a concerted effort already is underway to ensure full participation in the 2000 Census in hopes of bringing the county the correct amount of federal assistance over the next decade.
Ceballos said a Complete Count Committee is being organized to spread the word about the importance and impact of the Census. The committee, he said, will be charged with getting the word out about the Census prior to the April 1, 2000 count.
The committee will coordinate programs and presentations for schools and service clubs, as well as seek to generate media interest in the Census.
One of the committee’s upcoming projects, he said, will be to host an information booth at the Southern New Mexico State Fair Sept. 22-26. In addition to educating fair-goers about the importance of the Census, Ceballos said volunteers at the booth also will hand out refrigerator magnets, pencils, bookmarks, drinking straws and other materials festooned with the Census 2000 logo.
“The further in advance we get people to thinking about the Census, the better off we’ll be next April when the time comes to actually make the count,” Ceballos said. “This is an exciting opportunity for Doña Ana County to come together and work together to get a good count and bring in the very highest amount of federal assistance to which we’re entitled.”
Ceballos said the Complete Count Committee is still seeking volunteers. Those who wish to participate may call Ceballos toll-free at 1-888-723-1698 or e-mail him at email@example.com.