Census officials say returning forms saves money

U.S. Census forms should start appearing this week in mailboxes across the country.

The results will be used to dole out $4 trillion in federal funds during the next 10 years and allocate congressional representatives.

Census officials are emphasizing the importance of filling out the 10-question form -- partly because it is much cheaper than sending out census takers.

The cost of the paper form is 46 cents per person -- little more than a stamp. The cost of sending a census taker to each household that does not respond is $57, according to the bureau.

"Just think about that," said Ed Davis, the regional partnership coordinator for the Census Bureau. "You're the taxpayer. It's on your behalf to get the forms back."

The last time the once-a-decade count was completed, in 2000, the nation's mail-in participation rate was 72 percent.

The census is required by the U.S. Constitution and collects population data such as age, race and gender.

Davis said officials want people to respond early -- by April 1. Otherwise a household won't appear in the bureau's database and a census taker will be dispatched.

Though the census taker won't need to ask a household questions if the form is returned after April 1, it's still an extra cost, he said.

Augusta's Census Complete committee is attending events around the area and distributing literature to encourage participation, said Paulwyn Boliek, a co-chairman of the group.

2000 Census

Mail-in participation rates:

U.S. 72%

Georgia 69%

South Carolina 65%

Richmond County 71%

Columbia County 78%

Aiken County 68%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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