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Maricopa is putting together its Complete Count plan for the 2020 U.S. Census.

Maricopa is gearing up for next year’s decennial U.S. Census.

Data from Census Bureau has become so important some cities, including Maricopa, funded special counts in off-years to try to prove their population. Population can help a company decide whether to invest in a community and it can decide if it’s time for a new congressional district.

There are changes to the way the census will be taken in 2020, and the City has formed a Complete Count Committee to educate the public and encourage them to participate. For instance, households will receive an “invitation” to complete the census survey online.

“Part of the encouragement,” said Dale Wiebusch, the City’s director of Intergovernmental Affairs, “is that the data is driven both by the monetary factor and political representation.”

Wiebusch heads the committee, which meets monthly to talk about strategy. He invited 50 participants, with up to 14, with a handful at any given meeting. The committee, he said, is comprised of people who can reach diverse groups, especially those who could be missed because of language barriers or lack of technology.

In the recent census campaigns, the city saw where portions of the population did not comply, including areas of the Heritage District. That is where committee members can step in to better explain the process and necessity of the census.

He said the census count would impact federal and state funding.

“There are 50 or more federal programs that rely on census data for disbursement of funds,” he said, adding that figure could be $3,000 per person.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 95 percent of households will receive census invitation by mail. Almost 5 percent will have their census invitation dropped off at their home. Less than 1 percent will be counted by a census taker.

“We do this in very remote areas like parts of northern Maine, remote Alaska and in select American Indian areas that ask to be counted in person,” the Bureau explained in unattributed documents. The department is based in Maryland and directed by Steven Dillingham.

Wiebusch said he would like to see the City have library computers dedicated to the census for those who do not have the Internet at home. The main census activity will take place in March and April, with reminders and other wrap-up activities into June.

Census invitations will begin going out in the mail in mid-March. If the household has not responded, a reminder letter will go out, and a reminder postcard, then a reminder letter and a paper questionnaire and then an in-person follow-up.

The project goes in stages, with Maricopa due to start its portion April 1.

“I find it hilarious we would do it on April Fool’s Day,” Wiebusch said.

Unlike a special census, the decennial census will count everyone who declares their main residence to be Maricopa, even if they live here only six months out of the year and even if they are not citizens.

Wiebusch emphasizes there is no “citizenship question” on the 2020 U.S. Census.

“I know a lot people think that’s about those without documentation,” he said, “but we have Canadians and we have a lot of other ‘snowbirds’ who live here a lot of the year.”

The City of Maricopa is working with Maricopa Association of Governments and Riester, a Phoenix-based advertising firm, to help with preparations for the census and outreach.


This story appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

“This helps Maricopa become a more viable option for new industry and businesses looking to expand.” — Denyse Airheart

The City of Maricopa has ballooned from a tiny town into a the 18th largest city in Arizona in less than 20 years.

In 2018, estimates approved by the U.S. Census Bureau and Arizona State Demographer’s Office put Maricopa’s population at 51,977, pushing the city over the 50,000-mark for the first time.

“What this means for Maricopa is that we have shown consistent, sustained growth in the city and will no longer be seen as a rural community,” said Denyse Airheart, Maricopa Economic Development director. “This helps Maricopa become a more viable option for new industry and businesses looking to expand.”

In 2016, the City paid more than $700,000 for a special census in hopes of proving its population had reached the 50,000 mark, but that census officially found only 46,903.

Still, that was a 2,873 percent increase over the 2000 Census, according to a city website. Maricopa was incorporated as the 88th city in Arizona on Oct. 15, 2003.

Official census records indicate just 1,040 residents lived in the area in 2000.

“There was a time when our city’s growth was a reflection of less expensive housing opportunities, but now it’s due to the increased quality of life,” City Manager Rick Horst said. “With expanded access to higher education, healthy living and entertainment opportunities, our planning teams and building partners have cultivated a thriving city that a growing number of people want to be a part of.”

The City of Maricopa is approximately 43 square miles with a planning area of 233 square miles.

The average household income in Maricopa is $75,000, among the highest in the state of Arizona.

Approximately 88 percent of adult residents have some post-high school education and 47 percent hold a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree.

Maricopa is the second most populous incorporated city in Pinal County, behind Casa Grande estimated to be 55,477, and Maricopa is the 18th most populous city in Arizona.

“It’s a great accomplishment for the city to reach this 50,000-resident milestone,” Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said Monday. “We look forward to the new opportunities that will come from this growth and we are excited for the continued economic development of our community.”