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SHIRLEY — If you haven’t turned in your 2006 census yet, you might receive a call soon from Marjorie Marcinkewicz at the town clerk’s office.

The census forms were mailed at the end of December, said town clerk Amy McDougall, and there are several reasons that residents should return them.

“It’s really important for us to have accurate numbers,” McDougall said during her regular office hours on Jan. 11. She admitted that processing the forms is a lot of work — each form is individually reviewed for changes and entered into a state-run computer system. Some 2,900 forms were sent out, following U.S. Postal Service routes, with one sent to each household. A few forms were hand-delivered, she said.

The annual town census establishes the population, which has hovered around 5,800 for the past few years, according to McDougall.

The census enables the town to provide proof of residency, she said, which is required for college students applying for reduced tuition at Massachusetts state colleges, or when veterans apply for benefits.

It also helps the town maintain accurate voter list, and protects citizens’ voting rights, McDougall said.

The status of registered voters who have not completed the census must be changed to “inactive,” McDougall explained. Inactive voters who comes to vote must complete an Affirmation of Current and Continuous Residency from, declaring their Shirley residency under penalties of perjury. This can cause unnecessary delays at the polls, she said.

The town uses the information gathered with the census for planning purposes, said McDougall. Once the census is complete, the information is used to compile the town’s annual street listing, for which a printout is available at the clerk’s office, she said.

The census also helps agencies such as the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission to identify areas of growth, said McDougall, which assists communities with infrastructure projects.

Retired town clerk Sylvia Shipton and Marcinkewicz were always very thorough in collecting the census, according to McDougall; if Marcinkewicz couldn’t reach residents by telephone, additional letters were mailed to residents requesting the return of the forms.

“I plan to continue with that,” she said. “(Residents’) cooperation in returning the census form as soon as possible will prevent a costly follow-up.”

On a related note, the due date for dog license applications is Jan. 31, McDougall reminds residents. A copy of each dog’s current rabies certificate must be included with the application, she said.

The fee is $10 per dog, and a $5 late fee will be assessed for applications received after Jan. 31, said McDougall.

Annual census forms and dog license applications are both available on the town’s Web site at

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