Commissioners urge all to respond to census

Commissioners urge all to respond to census

County commissioners are urging all Tuscarawas County residents to complete the 2020 census.


The United States is asking everybody living within her borders to respond to census invites that will be mailed in mid-March for an accurate count of the population. The Census Bureau will send letters and postcards before the due date of April 1.

Everyone can respond by mail, phone or online. Should anyone not respond, reminder letters and postcards will be mailed in April. Census takers will be on the ground starting in June to track down anyone who still hasn’t completed the short questionnaire.

July 31 is the last day for everyone to be counted. That’s the cutoff date, and after that workers will begin crunching the numbers. Results, lists and statistics have to be reported to the president by the end of the year.

County commissioners are urging all Tuscarawas County residents to complete the forms so federal funding can benefit clinics, schools, housing and other critical services. The commissioners issued a statement in November letting everyone know this is a great way for them to make a difference in the community and that the effects will be felt for years.

The Census Bureau informed the county of an estimated loss of 500 residents, but that projection didn’t ring true because of the overflowing schools, increased traffic and a population that is living longer. The commissioners decided it wasn’t safe to leave anything to chance and have formed the Complete Count Committee.

“We stand to lose a lot if we’re under-reporting,” Commissioner Joe Sciarretti said. “That’s why we’re doing everything we can to get the word out.”

Every person living in the county helps to bring about $1,800 worth of federal funding every year, and an inaccurate count can leave many of the agencies without the money needed to serve the community effectively. The estimated 500-person deficit means the county would get $900,000 less annually for the next decade.

The CCC’s job is to make sure everyone knows what to do and how to do it. They are actually a group of subcommittees featuring mayors, teachers and other community leaders to get the word out locally. The Tuscarawas County Office of Community & Economic Development is leading the effort, and they said community leaders are already hard at work spreading the message.

Director Scott Reynolds thinks it’s great that cities have already formed their own committees but said the county organization is still available to help everyone in any way they can.

The Tuscarawas County Public Library System is going to serve as a hub for people to participate in the census. They will have several computers dedicated to helping patrons complete the survey as the due date nears. There also will be special programs at the Tuscarawas branch on Feb. 18 and 19 from 1-4 p.m. and the Sugarcreek branch on Feb. 20 and 21 from 1-4 p.m.

The county has enlisted the help of the Canton nonprofit, Immigrant Worker Project, to reach out to the local Guatemalan population. Getting an accurate count of this often under-represented group can be tricky for a number of reasons.

The invites and advertisements are in English and Spanish, but many Guatemalans speak indigenous languages that are strictly oral. The “head of household” designation also can be confusing as sometimes many families live at the same address. IWP and CCC are reaching out to the many tiendas and churches that serve the community to enlist their help overcoming these difficulties.

There also is the question of legal status for some. Both Reynolds and Sciarretti said the purpose of the census isn’t to bust anyone, and the results aren’t shared with immigration officers.

“They use the resources just like the rest of us do,” Reynolds said. “And we need to be able to count them so that we get our fair share of the federal dollars to help pay for those things.”

All results are confidential and kept under lock and key for 75 years. By law the bureau cannot share your information with any law-enforcement agencies.

“By responding to the census, it should not endanger the fact that you’re here,” Reynolds said.

The United States Constitution created the census in Article I, and the first national census took place in 1790. Collected data helps determine the way congressional districts are drawn, where businesses will locate and how local governments plan for emergencies.

The federal government issues over $675 billion to communities every year. Stacey Spillman of the EDC said the office received $1,631,000 over two years through several different programs.

“I don’t think that you can overstate the importance of the census,” Reynolds said.

For more information visit, call the Community and Economic Development Office at 330-365-3230, visit any public library or check Facebook at 2020 Census Tuscarawas County.

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