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Census questionnaires

begin to hit mailboxes

By BETH LAKEY

Staff Writer

March 8, 2000 10 PM

Pike County officials are hoping residents will quickly return the Census 2000 questionnaires being delivered to every door.

Letters from the U.S. Bureau of the Census have gone out to Pike County citizens stating the questionnaires will go out soon and some residents have been personally handed those forms.

The questionnaire only takes a matter of minutes to complete and all information put on that form is confidential.

In other words, fear of that information being forwarded to the Internal Revenue Service or other government agencies is unwarranted.

What local officials want to point out is the importance of the census.

Troy City Clerk Alton Starling has been working with the Census Bureau to ensure all the city’s residents are counted because city officials are anticipating a 10 percent increase in residents.

Many have asked why they should answer the questions. The answer to that question is money.

There is a direct correlation between federal appropriations and the population.

"We want to get as much money as we can," Starling said. "If we get a good count, we’ll get a portion of taxes we deserve."

The 1990 Census determined Troy had 13,900 residents. Since that time, new industry has come into the area, which means more people and possibly more money in the future.

"It is critical that we get an accurate Census count," Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said.

Lunsford thinks the City of Troy has been hurt financially by an inaccurate count in 1990.

That is why he is encouraging everyone to send in the questionnaires promptly.

Troy City Schools Superintendent Hank Jones said the school system will be sending out leaflets provided by the Census Bureau.

"We want to assist the Census Bureau in any way we can," Jones said.

"It’s important we get an accurate count," he said, adding schools depend on federal dollars for programs such as Head Start.

Jones also said having an accurate population count is "important, overall."

When Census numbers were released in 1980 and 1990, Alabama lost a United States representative based on that data.

Pike County Administrator Steve Hicks and Pike County Schools Superintendent John Key were out of town Wednesday and unavailable for comment.

Just in case someone is having difficulty filling out the questionnaire, someone from the Census Bureau will be on hand at Troy City Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays through Apr. 13 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Help will also be available at Brundidge City Hall between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Mondays.