Census: Saluda population up by 100+

Published 6:01 pm Monday, September 19, 2011

Saluda Mayor Fred Baisden commended city employees for their hard work in 2010 to encourage residents to complete the 2010 U.S. Census.
At the Saluda Board of Commissioners meeting Monday, Sept. 13, Baisden said the census reported 715 citizens in Saluda, compared to about 575 citizens in the 2000 census.
Baisden said many people don’t realize the importance of the census count. He said capturing an accurate count means a lot to a city the size of Saluda.
“It means money to the city because you get your revenue back from the state based on what your population is,” Baisden said. “We’ve lost, in the last 10 years, probably $100,000 in revenue or more.”
Saluda Finance Director Ron Cole said the push for a more complete census started under the leadership of former mayor Rodney Gibson. City employees carried the effort by literally driving all over town.
Cole said the city enrolled in the precensus program, which allowed cities to submit an estimation of residents before census employees mailed information to homes.
“In the 2000 census we were really disappointed because we came in at around 575 and everyone thought it should have been much more than that,” Cole said. “The estimated population before the 2000 census was expected to be around 600 and something, so that’s why the governing body was so shocked.”
City clerk Doris Marion said she and others had a strong feeling the 2000 numbers were off.
“I moved into my home 12 years ago and I can count a number of new homes in my area alone,” Marion said. “I know there have to be at least 14.”
But just counting homes doesn’t give a true picture of the number of residents in Saluda, Marion said, because so many of the homes are vacation homes. So city employees got to work to make sure the census got it right. They took several days to travel through the city filling in blanks of house numbers that were not on the forms and added those to the 2000 census information, Cole said.
The city even publicized the coming census on water bills and at city commission meetings.
“We owe Ron [Cole] and Erny [Williams] and Doris [Marion] and all the people in city hall for getting involved with the census process and ensuring we had the right count,” Baisden said.
A total of 703 residents reported living in Polk County, while 12 live in Henderson County.
“We did fill out the precensus forms instead of having a simple estimation,” Marion said. “We really tried to encourage them to understand that our population count would help – would help with the sales tax and with the budget. We only get a chance to do that every 10 years.”
Sales tax revenues, Powell Fund (gasoline tax) monies for maintaining roads and beer and wine taxes are all funneled back to counties by the state based on population counts.

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