RIO ARRIBA, N.M. (KRQE) - A New Mexico county that claims it was short-changed in the 2010 census stands to lose millions of dollars.
It is a sprawling 5,800 square miles.
"It's larger than Connecticut it goes from Navajo Lake to Truchas from Colorado just past Espanola," County Manager Thomas Campos said.
Rio Arriba County has a population of 40,246, according to the 2010 census.
It's a number Campos takes issue with.
"It reports us losing 2,000 people…I don't believe Rio Arriba's lost 2,000 people," Campos said.
Now they are looking into proving that.
Campos says the county is planning to challenge the census figures in order to qualify for the highly sought after community development block grants.
"We have to be at a 55 percent poverty level in order to qualify county-wide for CDBG funds, this year we're at 41 percent," Campos said.
Because of that they have to tap the brakes on planned projects, like a new 911 dispatch center and the second phase of this business park.
So just how much money is the county missing out on?
"$750,000 a year…we're talking about a lot of money over the course of 10 years," Campos said.
Campos admits it was his slip-up that landed them in this tough spot.
He said they received a grant for this project in Alcalde in 2010 with the old census data and couldn't apply for another grant until it was done.
But when it came time to apply again last year they realized the census data had changed.
"It's unfortunate that it didn't come back on the radar screen until three years into the census period," Campos said.
Despite that, Campos says it's not too late to make up some ground, but they would have to hire an independent surveyor to do a small scale census.
"So we're going to have to pay somewhere between the vicinity of $25,000 to $50,000," Campos said.
Campos says it's a small price to pay for a lot of financial gain. He believes a lot of people deliberately dodged the census fearing it wasn't as anonymous as it seemed.
The county has six months left to challenge the 2010 numbers.
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