A census under-count can mean a lot to community

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The money used to pave the roads you drive on. The funding acquired to teach school children. The ability to assist low income families and even attracting your favorite franchise to town. Each service begins with an accurate population count. This is something Nacogdoches may have been cheated of ten years ago.

"Community leaders did feel that we were under counted at that time," Larissa Philpot, city planner said. Rather than brooding over something that can't be changed she's being pro active and leading a local committee with the task of educating and promoting Census 2010.

The Nacogdoches city population is about 100 people shy of reaching 30,000. "You never know what a cut off point will be for a grant program or for a new company," Philpot said. "It may mean a new restaurant or company won't even look at a city unless there are at least 30,000 people." An under count by any amount can jeopardize communities share of $400-billion dollars annually.

"We're saying it's 10 questions. It will take you about 10 minutes to fill out. It's going to affect your community for the next ten years," Regina Brown Moers, a partnership specialist with the Census Bureau says over and over again. She emphasizes how simple the new short form will be to families and individuals. "We don't want to know your social security number. We don't care how many guns you have. None of that interests us. We will be asking less personal questions than what you're asked when joining a health club."

Moers is facilitating a group of volunteers in promoting the importance of Census 2010. "an under count is absolutely what we're trying to prevent," said Moers.

A major concern is obtaining an accurate count of thousands of university students, a population community leaders felt was skipped over ten years ago.  "So we'll start taking steps immediately to inform students about the importance of the count," Steve Westbrook, vice president for university affairs said.  "How they (students)  will be counted is important," knows Westbrook. A person's residence is determined by where they lie their head at night the majority of the year. For college students that would be their university town, not their permanent residence. "We want to make sure that they communicate with their parents," Westbrook said.

The education will occur throughout the region. Only once every ten years does an individual have such a powerful impact on their local economy. Census day 2010 is April 1st. Questionnaires will be mailed next year. You'll be given six opportunities to fill it out and mail it in. After that a personal visit will be made by a census worker.

To learn more go to 2010census.gov

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