Census Making Big Push This Week
A special piece of mail starts appearing in mailboxes this week.
The 2010 census questionnaire is expected to arrive today through Wednesday at every household in Moore County and across the country.
"Being counted by the census is something you can do for your county that doesn't cost you a dime," said Tim Emmert, community development planner with the Moore County Planning Department. "In fact, it will result in greater funding coming into the county."
Emmert and other county officials are urging all county residents to fill out the census forms and return them promptly. The forms contain 10 questions, which must be answered and returned in a postage-paid envelope accompanying the questionnaire.
The U.S. Constitution requires a census of population every 10 years. Results of the nationwide population census are used for multiple purposes - ranging from congressional and state legislative redistricting to distribution of state and federal funds to local governments and schools. Click here for more information on the census.
"We all know Moore County is growing fast, but our rapid growth means nothing if we can't demonstrate it on paper," Emmert said.
More than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed annually through state, local and tribal governments to communities based on population data, according to a report from the Census Bureau, an arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The funds go for such things as schools, hospitals, transportation projects, roads, job training programs and emergency response tools.
"Every North Carolina resident should fill out and return their census questionnaires," Gov. Bev Perdue said in a statement released last week. "It's easy. It's important, and it's secure.
"An accurate count of our population is critical for the future of North Carolina. As a fast-growing state, we must count everyone to get our fair share of the billions of federal dollars distributed each year based on the census."
Returning the questionnaires promptly by mail will save money because the Census Bureau must follow up with personal home visits to households that do not return the questionnaires.
"If the people of North Carolina complete the census form and return it quickly, then we won't have to go out, knock on doors and collect the information," said William W. Hatcher, regional director for the U.S. Census Bureau. "Returning completed questionnaires saves taxpayer money and increases the likelihood of a full count. That translates into political power and needed federal funding for the state."
Hatcher estimates that for every one percentage point increase in mail returns of the census form, taxpayers save about $85 million in cost of sending census takers door to door to collect census information.
April 1 is Census Day, the reference day for the population count. By that date, every person living in a residence is to be listed on the census form, including relatives and non-relatives.
Hatcher said residents should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time and should not wait until April 1 to return the census form but should return it immediately upon receipt. Census takers will begin collecting information from households that did not return the form on May 1.
"It's a win-win situation when people answer the census and mail back the questionnaire," Hatcher said. "It's vital that everyone be counted once and in the right place."
Federal law prohibits the use of census information for any purpose other than the collecting of facts and figures. That means that personal details will not be shared with the public or with other federal agencies, such as the IRS, the FBI or the immigration service.
Help in completing the forms is available at the Telephone Questionnaire Help Line at toll-free, (866) 872-6868 or (866) 928-2010 for those who speak Spanish.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at (910) 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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