SOMERTON – The city of Somerton could lose $805,567 annually in state-shared revenue as a result of what city officials say was an undercount of the city’s population in the 2020 Census, according to the city’s finance director.

Arizona cities’ shares of revenue from the state taxes on fuel sales, vehicle registrations and income taxes are based on their populations, and given that the Census count remains in effect for 10 years, Somerton is bracing for a sustained loss in funding that goes for street construction and maintenance and other capital improvement projects.

The Census counted Somerton’s population at 14,197 – 90 fewer than the 2010 Census and 2,357 fewer than the estimated provided in March by state demographers. Somerton officials believe the population was undercounted by about 4,000, based on the number of building permits issued in the city and on other indicators of growth.

Gallegos said her estimate of the revenue loss, presented at a recent session of the Somerton City Council, is based on her own calculations as well as those provided by the Arizona League of Cities and Towns.

She said the biggest losses in revenue will come in the form of sales tax revenue reductions, a loss of $258,548 annually, and in state income tax losses, $287,551 a year.

“The Census numbers are crucial because they affect the way state revenues are distributed to the city. We would be returning the shared revenues that we had in fiscal 2019-2020,” she said.

Somerton City Administrator Jerry Cabrera said he doesn’t expect the lower population count to be reflected in the city budget until the last quarter of the current fiscal year, in which case the city would have more time to gather documentation to formally challenge the Census numbers before seeing revenue losses.

Cabrera, however, said the Census Bureau is not all to blame for the low count.

“Many people did not complete the Census form, and these are the consequences – the loss of funds that we receive from the state. The majority of the funds that we should receive are going to go to another place. We didn’t foresee this reduction.”

Gallegos said the city has surpluses of some revenues, such as fuel sales receipts, but that eventually it will expend that money, forcing cutbacks, starting with capital improvement projects.

“Unfortunately this is for 10 years. We would have to make some hard decisions and that will affect the services the city provides,” Somerton Vice Mayor Miguel Villalpando said. “I hope that the residents see that that this is the consequence of not being counted.”

City officials are waiting to find out from Census Bureau how to formally appeal the population count.

Carmen Juarez, Somerton’s Community Development director, said the county board of supervisors has scheduled a meeting to discuss challenged to Census numbers.


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