Pattison City Council passes resolution supporting census

R. HANS MILLER | TIMES SENIOR REPORTER
Posted 3/10/20

Pattison’s City Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of all city residents participating in the 2020 census at their March 3 meeting. Council members and City Secretary Christa …

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Pattison City Council passes resolution supporting census

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Pattison’s City Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of all city residents participating in the 2020 census at their March 3 meeting. Council members and City Secretary Christa Molloy expressed concern that a lack of participation reduced the population count for the 2010 census which may have reduced grant funding opportunities for the city.

“This is what the state and federal government use to examine whether a community qualifies for things,” Pattison Mayor Joe Garcia said. “Whether that be grants or any number of other benefits.”

Several issues from the 2010 census were issues that the city hoped to avoid moving forward, Molloy said. She cited data from the 2010 census which indicated only about 66% of residents in census tract 6802 – which includes both Pattison and Brookshire – had responded to the 2010 census. Molloy said that conversations with US Census Bureau staff indicated that a lack of understanding of the census as well as a lack of access to the internet had decreased the tract’s response rate to the bureau’s request for census information.

A statement on the US Census Bureau’s website indicates that Waller County is difficult to track but tract 6802 is “one of the hardest to count in the country.”

The census begins April 1 and data collection will continue through the end of July according to the US Census Bureau website.

Garcia said it was important for everyone in the city to complete the census in order to ensure the city’s residents were represented in Austin and Washington properly. Ensuring that opportunities for funding based upon population come to fruition – especially since the city is expecting the same growth that has been seen in the past with Katy and Fulshear.

Pattison City Councilmembers discussed the need for infrastructure improvements that proper credit for population would be critical for in order to prepare for upcoming growth during the March 3 meeting.

“We’ve got to do what we can do right now to prepare for the future,” Garcia said.

The city can expect challenges to come up due to the currently-rural area it is surrounded by, Molloy said. During the 2014-18 census estimate process, 36.4% of the area had no home internet subscription or only had dial-up internet. Mobile-only internet access through a cell phone or tablet accounted for 14.4% of internet access, which is a key issue in ensuring everyone has access to complete the census survey Molloy said.

Many Pattison residents also live behind gates on ranch or farmland and that may make it difficult for census workers who travel door-to-door to access folks in those homes, Garcia said.

Pattison Mayor Pro Tem Seth Stokes said he was concerned that some people may not trust the census workers enough to allow them into their homes to help with completing the census questionnaire. They also may just throw the postcards sent out by the census away because they mistake it for junk mail or do not understand the value the census provides to the community, he said.

Molloy said she is working with census staff to obtain assistance to hold community events to educate residents about the census and assist residents in completing the questionnaires that would be coming soon.

Councilmembers agreed that maximizing participation in the census would be vital for the city’s success as it faces growth in the next decade and beyond and could not afford a poor showing as happened in 2010 and the 2014-18 time periods.

“We’re a small, rural community so whether it’s through our city council or word of mouth, we want to try to do a better job,” Garcia said.

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