Residents want an accurate census count

When Donald Vilmin got his census form, he knew something wasn't right.

Lake area resident Donald Vilmin said, "It was hanging on the door and I looked at it immediately and it said Lake Ozark!"

The problem: he doesn't live in Lake Ozark, he lives in the Village of Four Seasons. Village Clerk Tom Laird says after years of planning with the census bureau, he can't believe the mistake.

Thomas Laird, Four Seasons Village Clerk said "Provide them with maps of this municipality, incorporation papers for this municipality, street names for this municipality. And they promised us when census forms came out it would be listed as Four Seasons."

Laird says the mistake could cost the Village.

Laird said, "We lose $68 per person for gas tax that we're undercounted. We could lose potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales tax."

Those dollars pay to maintain roads, build parks and playgrounds and provide other municipal services. But the government tells us there's a quick fix.

Census Bureau officials want residents to cross off the Lake Ozark on the form and mail it back in with the correct city. But Four Season officials say that's easier said than done.

Laird says, "We have no municipal real estate tax or utilities. We have no database to contact all the residents to change this."

Only year-round residents will be counted and some have already mailed back forms without making the change. Even so, Census Bureau officials say Four Seasons will get an accurate count.

Sydnee Chattin-Reynolds, Deputy Director of Kansas City Bureau for the U.S. Census Bureau said, "The actual questionnaire is, and this is a census term, geo-coded. It's coded correctly, but there has been a mix up and we're investigating as to what occurred, but the actual address does match the home that they have."

But Donald Vilmin isn't convinced.

Vilman says, "I have no confidence the Census Bureau is going to take care of this problem at all. I think the Village of Four Seasons practically disappeared with this."

But he'll be calling neighbors to make sure they write in the Village of Four Seasons, before mailing in their form.

Census Bureau officials confirm this is not an isolated incident. KRCG talked with the Village of Bull Ridge. They say the same thing happened to them. Their residents were sent census forms with a Branson address.