Census counting on response

Don't ignore the census form you'll soon be getting in the mail -- $4 trillion could be riding on it.

 

That's the amount of federal funding expected to be doled out during the next 10 years based on the results of the census, which is conducted at the start of each decade. The money helps fund hospitals, job training centers, emergency services and public works projects. Title I money for low-income schools and students also is allocated based on census results.

"Just about every facet of our life and life experiences the census impacts," said Ed Davis, the regional partnership coordinator for the Census Bureau, who was in Augusta on Wednesday to promote the counting with a regional Census Bus Tour.

Census officials say receiving an accurate count is vital to ensure each community gets the resources and representation it needs. Population figures also determine how many seats a state receives in Congress.

The 2000 census helped Georgia add two Congressional districts. One of the districts created -- District 12 -- includes part of Richmond County and is represented by Democrat John Barrow.

A redistricting committee also was formed by the Augusta Commission after the 2000 count to realign District 6 to help maintain racial balance on the board.

Similar changes could result from the 2010 count.

The bus tour that stopped at the Southside Y in Augusta is part of a national effort to promote filling out the forms. Mr. Davis said one of the biggest obstacles to getting people to complete the questionnaire is assuring them of confidentiality.

Census takers are bound by an oath not to reveal any personal information, and the information is reported only as general statistics, Mr. Davis said.

"We know there's a lot of sensitivity about personal identity issues," he said.

Members of the Augusta Census Complete committee attended the bus tour event to promote the survey. The committee, whose co-chairmen were chosen by Mayor Deke Copenhaver, consists of about 10 people who are reaching out to business, education, government and faith-based communities to help improve the return rate.

"We're trying to cover the whole community and just beat the drum," said Paulwyn Boliek, co-chairman of the group.

Reach Erin Zureick at (706) 823-3217 or erin.zureick@augustachronicle.com.

Census officials say receiving an accurate count is vital to ensure each community gets the resources and representation it needs. Here's a look at some of the information (from the 2000 Census) that will be used:

 RICHMOND COUNTY COLUMBIA COUNTYAIKEN COUNTY
Population 199,775 89,288 142,552
Male 48.2% 48.9% 48.2%
Female 51.8% 51.1% 51.8%
Median household income $33,086 $55,682 $37,889
Individuals below poverty level 37,313 (19.6%) 4,540 (5.1%) 19,455 (13.8%)
Source: census.gov