For its eight-year history, Centennial’s unofficial population has been 103,000. That could potentially change next year when the federal …
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For its eight-year history, Centennial’s unofficial population
has been 103,000. That could potentially change next year when the
federal government conducts the first U.S. census since the city
was incorporated in 2001.
The number of citizens who call Centennial home is more than a
matter of fleeting curiosity for the burgeoning city. Its official
population can affect everything from the funding the city receives
from the federal government to its representation in Congress and
the Colorado General Assembly.
For those reasons, the city government is preparing to launch
“Centennial Counts,” a multi-pronged public-relations campaign to
encourage residents to complete and return census questionnaires
Sherry Patton, Centennial’s communications director, outlined
the planned effort and explained its importance to the city council
on Nov. 16
“Sometimes there are groups of individuals who for whatever
reason are afraid to be counted, or are against the census,
whatever,” she said. “Our hope is we can make sure that generally
people understand that [the census] is important for the people of
The second largest city in Arapahoe County and one that is
presumed to be the 10th largest in the state is particularly
interested in maintaining its estimated population of 103,000.
Cities with 100,000 residents or more are eligible for a variety of
entitlements, including an energy-efficiency community block
“We have many state and federal funding opportunities that are
based upon population. So the more people we have, obviously, the
more money that can come to us,” Patton said.
A population of more than 100,000 also gives Centennial a seat
on the executive board of the Denver Regional Council of
Governments and the ability to serve on its transportation advisory
To help spread the word, Centennial will initiate “Centennial
Counts” after the first of the year. Targeted media is likely to
include print advertising, community newsletters, bus-bench
advertising and the city Web site.
“We hope to have some surveys and some gimmicks to get people to
keep coming back to that [Web] page just to have a little fun and
gather information,” Patton said.
A secondary hope of the campaign is that it may assist in
Centennial’s overall efforts to foster identity and community
awareness in the largely “invisible” city crafted from
unincorporated Arapahoe County eight years ago.
Image and profile issues have presented challenges in areas
ranging from misdirected sales-taxes to residents unaware that they
live in Centennial and use Littleton, Aurora or Englewood mailing
“[With a high population], the post office will consider us more
seriously in the future in terms of actually finding people who
live in Centennial,” Patton said.
A special logo has been created for the marketing campaign. Its
slogan is “Centennial Counts 2010: Stand Up and Be Counted.”
City council members and city staff will be provided talking
points, handouts and PowerPoint materials to use at citizen
meetings and other events.
The campaign will take several forms and will emphasize diverse
photos of Centennial residents. The message will boil down to this,
according to Patton: Every person counted means more money for such
things as roads and senior services.
“Centennial Counts” is one of several recent city actions
surrounding the upcoming census. On Nov. 23, the council
unanimously approved an annexation, hastening action to ensure that
the new city population will be in place in time for the census. On
Nov. 16, Mayor Randy Pye issued a proclamation “recognizing the
importance of the 2010 census.”
Much of the cost of the campaign is likely to be reimbursed by
the U.S. Census Bureau through federal grants, Patton said.
The U.S. census has been conducted every 10 years since 1790 as
required by the Constitution. The previous one was completed in
2000, the year Centennial residents voted to incorporate. It did
not officially become a city until 2001.
The 2010 census will consist of 10 questions and is expected to
take about 10 minutes to complete. The form will be mailed to
households next March and should be mailed back to the Census
Bureau by April 1.
Unlike previous years, the 2010 Census will use only a
short-form asking basic questions, such as name, gender, age, date
of birth, race, ethnicity and relationship, and housing status.
In the past, some citizens have received a longer form, which
prompted privacy concerns from those asked to provide more detailed
Between April and July, census workers will visit households
that did not return census forms.
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