Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Census Figures for Hudson

By now it's common knowledge that Hudson's population decreased by 10.8 percent in the past decade. Some people--perhaps some of the same people who thought building the country's largest cement plant in Greenport would bring back the good old days of the 1950s--think this population decline is a death knell for Hudson. Fourth Ward Supervisor William Hughes promises that he, Mayor Scalera, and Common Council President Don Moore "are reviewing the 2010 census information to determine what the next move for Hudson should be."

Sam Pratt takes a more balanced view, warning that the knee-jerk reaction that population loss is bad doesn't take into account other factors that contribute to the economic health and well-being of a community: "Say a town's population goes down while its residents' average income or local sales tax revenues go up--isn't that an improvement overall?"

A microcosmic example of population loss in Hudson occurred just down the street. A row of three houses began the decade divided up into apartments--three apartments in one building, two each in the other two houses. In 2000, more than 20 people lived in those houses, and one of the houses was known to the Hudson Police Department as a "notorious crack house." In 2010, only 6 people lived there--a population loss of 70 percent--but the houses had been impressively restored, they were owner occupied, and their assessments--and consequently their contribution to the City's coffers in property tax--had trebled.   

Yesterday, Sam Pratt published the population changes for municipalities in Berkshire and Ulster counties. Berkshire County, generally perceived as being more prosperous than Columbia County, had an overall population loss of 2.8 percent. Most interesting to me is that Stockbridge, home of Norman Rockwell and the Red Lion Inn, had a population loss of 14.5 percent.

One wonders if the civic leaders of Stockbridge are reviewing the 2010 census information to determine what their next move should be. 

4 comments:

  1. Some Hudson politicos have been licking their chops waiting for the new Census figures to arrive without the Correctional Facility prisoners counted in the 3rd Ward.

    But it would appear they're forgetting that key methodological change when they bemoan the new population numbers.

    Assuming the 2010 Census report includes the state-mandated change in where prisoners are counted, the drop in Hudson's "real" population is only 311, not 811, assuming an estimated number of 500 inmates back in 2000.

    That's a 4.1% drop, instead of a 10.8% drop.

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  2. I agree - how much emphasis should be put on the population numbers over what I would think would be more important numbers such as sales taxes taken in, police and fire service calls, number of people requiring services from the city or county, etc.

    One should also take into account the number of weekenders that were counted in some other locale. Even if they bought their residence from a family of the same size the census number for Hudson would go down because they would be counted elsewhere. This is important because it is a boon for Hudson in that they would still be paying the school tax but not be burdening the school with children. They would also pay the city taxes but most likely would require reduced services.

    Tim Legg

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  3. The current 2010 Hudson Census count of 6713 does include the correctional facility population. An adjusted number for purposes of this reapportionment will be published by the US Census in May. Current estimates of the prison population are I believe about 325. And there may be a very modest offset to the decrease from Hudson residents incarcerated elsewhere in the state.

    Whether the drop in population carries with it likely greater financial benefit to Hudson, while certainly arguable, is a completely separate question from whether or not Hudson's Census count is accurate and what effect that change has on benefits the City derives as a result. This is not an either or question.

    In so far as the population declines, for example, that decrease will negatively effect the revenue apportioned by the County to the City as a percentage of sales taxes retained and redistributed in the County.

    In 2011, the City has budgeted $9.8 million in total general fund revenue, $1.3 million of which is sales tax apportioned by formula based on the Census.

    While welcoming and encouraging economic improvement in Hudson, as we always do, it is not only balanced, it is arguably responsible for elected officials who represent Hudson to explore whether our population count is fair so that sales tax revenues returned to us are fair?

    Don

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  4. The data will tell the tale, e.g., income, age, education, housing vacancy rate etc.

    I've been searching the wretched US Census web site and can't find any of this detail (yet).

    Anyone have this detailed 2010 information from the Census?

    -- Jock Spivy

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