MOUNT VERNON — Four hundred billion dollars in federal money is up for grabs. Which of America’s 308,500,000 people will get them?
The answer will be shaped by the 2010 census, a count of the number of people living in the United States. The U.S. Constitution decrees that the population be counted once every 10 years, and the people’s representation in Congress be adjusted to reflect the census count. The numbers also influence what money is spent in the community on things such as roads, housing, parks, schools and public safety.
“It’s important to Knox County that people work cooperatively with the census takers,” said County Commissioner Allen Stockberger.
He added that the count isn’t intended to be an invasion of anyone’s privacy, that the numbers are simply used to help fairly split the country’s tax revenues.
Commissioner Teresa Bemiller pointed out that in addition to regular, standard money received from the federal government, additional grants for special projects are influenced by census demographics. Commissioner Robert Wise said one of the often overlooked benefits of the census is knowing where people are in the event of emergencies. Although the Census Bureau is not allowed to share any information about questions answered by census respondents, they can help first responders map where there are families living. This helps emergency management and 9-1-1 officials know where to go when emergencies happen.
The U.S. Census Bureau has announced that the 2010 Census will be one of the shortest census questionnaires in history, estimated to take only 10 minutes to fill out. The bureau will be attempting to reach as many people as possible by mail, to avoid having to send out census takers. A small number of census takers will be required, as Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis noted in his interview with the News last week.
The short census form will ask for less personal information than a typical credit card application, according to the Census Bureau. It does not ask about bank account information, salary or income, citizenship or immigration status, or Social Security number.