XENIA — Representatives from local jurisdictions came together July 23 to launch Greene County’s Complete Count Committee (CCC) for the 2020 Census.
Census Day is April 1, 2020.
“We’re here today to show unity in our effort to help the U.S. Census Bureau count everyone in Greene County — once, only once, and in the right place,” Devon Shoemaker, executive director of Greene County Regional Planning & Coordinating Commission, said at the special meeting in the Board of Commissioners’ chambers.
According to Shoemaker, the effort is all about people.
“Responding to the census actually means something. It means our fair share of funding helps everyone in one way or another,” he said.
Federal and state dollars are allocated based on population, he said.
“Every uncounted person at a minimum means a loss of $1,200 that would otherwise go to vital services and projects for our county,” he continued. “And in most cases it means a loss of services to our most vulnerable populations.”
Census data determines how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as redistricting of the state legislatures, county and city councils and voting districts.
“The census lays the foundation of our democracy,” Shoemaker said.
An accurate population count also helps officials forecast transportation and housing needs, plan for emergency response and natural disasters, determine where to build hospitals, clinics, businesses and factories, and design facilities for people with disabilities, the elderly, children and students.
The CCC is made up of volunteers working to increase awareness about the census and motivate residents to respond to it. Volunteers include representatives from each community, colleges, school districts, social services, transportation and government. Shoemaker said subcommittees will develop action plans for specific areas; the committee is continuously accepting new volunteers.
“Historically, the U.S. Census is as old as the country itself,” Pam Conine, mayor of Yellow Springs, said. “Our first census in the U.S. took place in 1790. And in Ohio, in 1800, before we were even a state.”
Mayors Bob Stone, City of Beavercreek; Sarah Mays, City of Xenia and Paul Keller, City of Fairborn, each commended the county’s organization, noting that the collaboration among municipalities is crucial.
“As Fairborn continues to move forward and grow, it is an extremely important aspect for us,” Keller said.
Others voiced their support of the committee, reading their own entity’s proclamation, or specifying the importance of reaching rural residents and college students.
“I’m very mindful that we have thousands of people who have never heard of a census but we’re looking forward to the challenge and we’ll get it done,” Bob Hickey, Associate Vice President of Public Affairs for Wright State University, said.
Kent Campbell, Cedarville Township trustee, encouraged jurisdictions to have a representative at each CCC meeting in the future.
For the first time, individuals will be able to respond to the census online, as well as by phone and mail. Households will receive a notice in the mail beginning in mid-March to complete the census, according to the county website. In May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up in person with households that haven’t responded.
Shoemaker said the census is confidential and protected.
“Individual records are protected for 72 years. Information is not shared with any law enforcement agency or any other agency. It is not used to determine eligibility for benefits, either,” he said.
Commissioner Bob Glaser expressed his concerns about counting those who have been displaced by the recent tornadoes.
“But I have hopes that … we can get them counted and hopefully they can rebuild, get back in their houses and enjoy life in Greene County,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge but we will survive.”
Contact this reporter at 937-502-4498.