City of Snoqualmie embarks on census

Attention Snoqualmie residents: between March 20 and April 2, be ready to answer a few questions when you hear a knock at the door.

With people moving to Snoqualmie at seemingly record rates, the city has decided to conduct a special census to see just how many people actually live in the city. Unincorperated parts will not be counted.

A city's population determines some state tax revenue, explained Snoqualmie City Councilmember Kathi Prewitt.

So, if the population numbers do not reflect population reality, then the money coming in will also be disproportionate.

For example, Snoqualmie receives criminal justice monies from state sales tax to support local police activities. State liquor profits are also divided among cities based on population, as are basic life-support services.

"We think we are undercounted," Prewitt said. "The whole purpose of doing this is that it will have an impact on the tax review for the city."

Residents will be visited by a census worker wearing a florescent green vest and identification.

There will be two forms; one long and one short.

The short form will count the population of the city's residents. It will ask for the names of all individuals residing in the home and the ages of children younger than 6.

The long form will only be sent to about 15 percent of the population to get representative statistics on demographics in terms of income and work location for the city's future development plans, Prewitt said.

Individuals may also be counted by calling the Snoqualmie Census 2006 hotline at (800) 635-6594 between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays beginning March 20.

"It's incredibly important that we count everybody," she added.

The last national census was done in 2000.

The city's last special census was also conducted in 2000 because the national census did not count everyone in the city, according to Jeanne Lamon, the city's deputy city clerk. The population at that time was about 1,600.

Based upon numbers gathered in the most recent census, the state follows a formula to estimate population growth.

"When you have such a huge population growth, sometimes those models don't work," Prewitt said.

In 2004, the most recent numbers, the city's official population was estimated to be about 6,345.

City officials believe the current population should be closer o about 8,000, though they will have to wait for the census results to know for sure.

The information gathered will be kept confidential, Prewitt noted.

"The special census allows us to get an accurate statistical count," said city finance officer Harry Oestreich. "It will help us to generate more revenue."

After the census, the numbers will be reviewed and submitted to the state for certification. If approved, that number would then be used as the base number for the state's tax allocation calculations.

By 2010, Oestreich said, the city's population growth should be at a stable rate, thus the 2010 census numbers could be used as the next number basis for the formula.

The one-time special census will be conducted by an outside consultant and may cost about $40,000, to be taken from the city's general fund, Oestreich said.

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