Tri-City Ledger -

By Joe Thomas
Ledger Editor 

Important to get in census count

 

March 26, 2020



As we continue to deal with COVID-19, things haven't changed much since last week. Dates you see about school starting back and other public buildings being open are good starting points, but may change any day.

Alabama has tentatively moved its March 31 runoffs to July 14. I use the word tentatively because that date could change as well.

County commissions and city councils have set certain dates to reopen, but we're really not sure if those dates will hold true.

I attended a special meeting of the Jay Town Council Tuesday night where the body voted to suspend utility cutoffs and late fees. The council said through April and on more than one occasion either the mayor or council member said the action was 'temporary'.

What we know today may not be true tomorrow and what we know tomorrow may not be true the next day. I tip my hat to our area local officials for taking hard and necessary steps to maintain services and keep the community safe from the virus.

I quoted Escambia County (Ala.) Commission Clerk-Administrator Tony Sanks last week when he told the commission “It's not time to panic, it's time to make smart decisions”. He said it best last week and those words still ring true this week.

With most all the emphasis now being placed on the coronavirus and what we should do and not to do to protect ourselves and our neighbors, the 2020 census has taken a little bit of a back seat.

The day may come that the federal government postpones the census. That hasn't happened yet and we all need to proceed as if it will stay on track.

I talked with Flomaton Mayor Dewey Bondurant Jr., and Century Mayor Henry Hawkins this week about the census. They told me what all mayors would have told me – the census is very, very important.

By now, most people have been mailed a census form to fill out. But I learned that residents who collect their mail at a post office box are not getting a form. They are being mailed to physical addresses only. I fall into that category since I don't get mail at home and have to go to the post office.

Whether you receive a paper form or not, you can still take the census online at http://www.my2020census.gov.

Mayor Hawkins said that if somebody doesn't have a form, he will get them one. He also said he would open the doors at Century Town Hall for people needing to be counted online.

So, why is the census important? Population numbers are the engine that drives government dollars, that's why.

While it's important that states like Alabama and Florida at least keep the same number of members in the U.S. House of Representatives, and hopefully not lose one by losing population. The rubber meets the road in grant money for our local communities.

States, counties and municipalities depend on federal Community Development Block Grants to take care of many of our basic services.

Federal money for schools, depend on numbers; federal money for roads and bridges depend on population numbers; money to repair sewer systems and water systems depend on those numbers as well.

Not being counted takes dollars out of your community.

As we continue to tread through COVID-19 we hear one common theme about staying away from crowds to prevent us from not only catching the virus, but passing it on to our neighbors or loved ones.

The same could be said about the census. You not only have an obligation to yourself, but you have an obligation to your neighbors to be counted. Those numbers will dictate the future of states, counties and municipalities for the next 10 years.

I encourage everyone to be counted in the 2020 census. Hopefully the virus will be in our rearview mirror in a few weeks. The census numbers will also be in our rearview mirror for the next decade.

 
 

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