You know that I hate to question government.
Close your mouths.
And quit laughing.
All jokes aside, I am questioning government, specifically the federal government, after its completely unbelievable 2020 census count for Seymour, pegged at 1,841.
Folks, no way that can be accurate.
In the 2010 census, the population inside Seymour’s city limits was counted at 1,921.
Ten years before that in the 2000 census, the count by the U.S. Census Bureau was 1,834.
I believe both of those numbers. They feel accurate.
The city’s growth during each 10-year span was slow, yet steady.
During the most-recent counting period from 2010 to 2020, Seymour’s growth has been brisk. Granted, the growth certainly has revved up over the past couple of years, evident by more than 60 new building permits being issued since January 2020. But in the eight or nine years before that, new homes (and people) were springing up in Seymour at a consistent rate.
Take a look down Water Street.
Look at Velma Drive.
The list goes on.
Boardwalk and Park Place. East Summit Avenue.
Most of the new homes were built before workers from the U.S. Census Bureau began strolling Seymour’s streets.
The same can be said of new duplexes.
Fact is, between 2010 and 2020, more than 150 building permits were issued in the city of Seymour.
Critics will point to vacant homes or ones that have been torn down.
150 of them? Or more?
Because per your federal census officials, Seymour lost 80 residents over the past 10 years.
What’s worse is that other numbers don’t add up, aside from the aforementioned building permits.
Per the 2020 census count, Seymour has 749 occupied homes and 102 vacant homes.
However, per public records available to anyone at Seymour City Hall, the city has 841 residential electric customers and 864 residential water customers.
But only 749 occupied homes?
Where are the 92 people who have electric service but not an occupied home getting service? In a cardboard box? The same can be said for the 115 water customers who, again, apparently aren’t in an “occupied home,” as the federal beancounters say there are only 749 of them in Seymour.
Above that, take a drive around Seymour’s city limits and count the 102 vacant homes census officials say exist.
Your count will end before you reach 30.
Those vacant homes don’t exist. Not 102 of them.
Personally, I know several local folks who worked for the U.S. Census Bureau during the 2020 count. All of them tell me the same tale. Many people didn’t respond to census letters, then didn’t respond to census visits. And in the world of the federal census, no response meant no heads counted.
Perhaps that’s our city’s problem.
The thing is, it sure appears that people responded in Marshfield, where the population rose from 6,633 to 7,458.
They responded in Rogersville, which saw a population jump from 3,073 to 3,897.
However, Seymour’s population fell from 1,921 to 1,841.
Here’s the kicker: That population loss will cost our city dearly when it comes to federal funding. Especially when our real population is between 2,200 and 2,300.
We need a population audit ... if there is such a thing. If we had a U.S. representative who actually visited Seymour like former U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton frequently did, I’d ask her.
Instead, we’re just seven souls above the city’s 2000 official population of 1,834.
That’s not accurate.
Everyone who lives here knows it.
Yet to the federal government, it is.
No wonder little gets done in Washington, D.C.
No one there can count.
Dan Wehmer is the Citizen’s editor, publisher and owner. He can be reached at 417-935-2257.