Lunsford: Accurate Census count is critical

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 7, 2000

Staff Writer

Although there are no numbers as to how Pike County is doing, Alabama has fallen short on the percentage of people returning their Census 2000 forms.

Early numbers show Alabama is 39th in the nation in responding to the Census. Overall, only 38 percent of the state’s households have returned the questionnaires to the Census Bureau. That puts Alabama below the national average, which is 44 percent.

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Officials are pointing out 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.

Troy City Clerk Alton Starling has been working with the Census Bureau to ensure all the city’s residents are counted.

Starling said the city will receive an unofficial count once the house visits are made by the Census takers. The official count will come much later, he said.

The 1990 Census determined Troy had 13,900 residents. New industry in the area and more people moving here has city officials hoping for a 10 percent increase in residents after the Census is taken.

"It’s critical that we get an accurate Census count," said Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford, who thinks Troy was hurt financially by an inaccurate count 10 years ago.

Pike County Administrator Steve Hicks has also been working with the Census Bureau to help make sure Pike County residents are all counted.

During the last Census, Pike County had a population of 27,595, Hicks said.

The reason officials want to count everyone is because there is a direct correlation between federal dollars and the population, which means an accurate count is important to programs, such as Head Start.

The United States Constitution mandates a national head count every 10 years to apportion Congressional seats.

As of the middle of last week, the Census Bureau had received 46 percent of the forms sent and is hoping for a 70 percent response rate before Census workers begin knocking on doors April 11.

Although the financial impact on the community is affected by the Census, personal finances can be affected, as well.

Every American is legally required to fill out the Census form. Fines from $100 to $500 can be imposed for refusing to return the form and providing false information.

For those who have not received their forms, there are some available at Troy City Hall.