Mar 222010
 
Authors: City Council member Wade Troxell

Growing up in Fort Collins, before being an engineering professor and administrator, this was something I understood well. Fort Collins can be a pleasant, sleepy town during the summer months, but when students arrive on campus in the fall, the “Choice City of Colorado” comes alive.

CSU students bring the energy that keeps our community vital, culturally and economically. This annual transformation is part of what makes life in a college town so exciting and rewarding.

Now, as also a member of the Fort Collins City Council, I share responsibility for safeguarding the long-term wellbeing of our city, so I’ve become even more aware that students are major contributors to the economic health of our community. Students spend an estimated $168 million in Fort Collins every year.

While CSU is already the largest single employer in northern Colorado, the money our students spend in the community also helps to fund nearly 650 private sector jobs in the city. The “CSU net-effect” on local Fort Collins tax revenue is $12.9 million. When you graduate, if you stay in Colorado, you’ll more than repay the public’s investment in your education.

CSU alumni account for more than $4.1 billion in household income in our state, and those earnings generate more than $130.8 million in income tax revenue and $50.2 million in sales tax revenue for Colorado every year.
As students, you’re important to this community and this state, and April 1 is a day you need to stand up and be counted.

Every 10 years, every American needs to be counted as part of the U.S. Census. The demographic data collected during the Census will be used to allocate more than $400 billion in annual funding to state, local and tribal governments each year for the next decade, to support everything from student financial aid to public transportation. For Colorado, that works out to about $8,750 per person each decade.

Given our city codes and the U 2 rule, I can understand why many students would be reluctant to complete the Census form out of fear the information you report could be used against you in some way.

None of us wants to perform our civic duty and wind up with a $1,000 nuisance violation as a result. I assure you that this won’t happen. On behalf of the City of Fort Collins, I can promise you that your Census data is strictly confidential. The city won’t have access to your personal information and it would be a violation of federal law to use your Census data to enforce city codes or ordinances.

You have absolutely nothing to lose by filling out the Census form and a lot to gain. We depend on the Census data to secure some of the funding for our Transfort bus system, which largely serves CSU students. Census data also can have a significant impact on the availability of tuition grant and loan programs.

Even if your permanent home is with your family in another city or state, the Census requires that you be counted where you’re living on April 1. If you live in the residence halls, you’ll get a form from your RA so you can be counted in the halls.

If you live off campus, you can expect to receive a Census form in the mail sometime in mid-March, and you and your roommates need to complete the form and send it in. If you don’t, a Census worker will stop by your home to follow up.

This year’s Census form is the shortest in history. Completing it from start to finish will take no more than about 10 minutes. If you have questions or need assistance filling it out, stop by the Census booth in the Lory Student Center from March 22 through April 16, and there will be Census representatives there to help out.

The Census is an opportunity, every 10 years, to demonstrate that you’re a force to be reckoned with here in Fort Collins. So I encourage you to watch for your Census form, fill it out, turn it in, and prove, once again, that CSU students count.
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Wade Troxell is a CSU Engineering Professor and Fort Collins City Council Member representing District 4. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com._

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