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Granite Quarry officials will request correction to 2020 Census count

GRANITE QUARRY — Town officials say the 2020 U.S. Census population total is too low and plan to ask representatives about challenging the count.

The town’s 2010 Census total was 2,930. The 2020 Census count was 2,984, but the town believes it has easily cleared the 3,000 mark based on other estimates.

The N.C. Office of State Budget and Management’s population count for the town was 3,148 in 2019. Rowan County’s 2020 fire district estimate came in at 3,604 and the town’s own survey of addresses served by utilities returned an estimate of 3,233.

The town’s own count occurred during a survey to reconcile the accounts served by Waste Management and Salisbury-Rowan Utilities. According to a memo to the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen from Town Manager Larry Smith, the town estimate looked at every service address in town. It even excluded vacant residences.

The memo said the town’s survey is closer to the 2019 OSBM estimate because it is a more accurate population count than the Census.

During the town board meeting on Monday, Mayor Bill Feather noted federal funding for municipalities is based on Census population counts, and he expects other communities to make similar requests to revise their counts as well.

The accuracy of the Census was called into question on a national scale last year when it was behind schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting deadlines.

The tactic recommended by the town’s administration was to delegate officials from the town to lobby legislators for assistance correcting the count.

“This is the perfect example of where the board can step up and make a huge difference,” Smith said, adding Granite Quarry is in a unique situation having recently completed an intense study of its population total.

Smith said contacting federal legislators would go further than anything town staff could do.

Linker suggested Feather be one of the delegates due to his length of experience in office. Alderman Doug Shelton suggested he or fellow alderman Jim Constantino also be part of the process for continuity. Feather is not running for reelection while Shelton and Constantino are not up for reelection this year.

“We’re sure to be on the board two more years,” Shelton said.

The board ultimately voted to appoint Feather and Shelton as the delegates to contact lawmakers.

Smith told the Post funding is a big part of why the town wants to appeal the count.

Smith said some staff members attended an information session on getting a revised count Tuesday. There will be follow-up sessions on the subject as well. He’s also heard from other municipalities that take issue with their counts.

“At the administrative level, we’re still in the exploratory stage,” Smith said.

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