Saying “There’re a lot of reasons for why we need to get the Census right,” city EDC president Ray Dunlap on Tuesday outlined steps being taken to ensure that Kaufman County does not fall prey to an undercount in 2020.
An act of Congress requires that every 10 years, the nation must undergo an extensive, detailed count of all people living in the United States.
Census data is used to determine levels of federal support for things such as grants and education funding, Dunlap told members of the Terrell City Council. It also impacts congressional and state reapportionment among other things. In addition, demographic information is used by county and municipal planners, and as tools for business development.
Still, some people are reluctant to participate in the Census, Dunlap noted. A lot of folks have “a general fear of government and they don’t realize that Census information is confidential and can’t be shared.”
The key to unlocking a full count is education, he noted. The Terrell Economic Development Corp. board set aside $10,000 to encourage participation in next year’s Census, he noted.
Additionally, Terrell’s EDC will join with counterparts in Kaufman and Forney to eventually form bodies that will include citizens, Census workers, churches, civic clubs and other community organizations to reach and educate the greatest number of people about the Census, which gets rolling in April.
It’s critical that people understand that participating in the Census will not expose them to government detention or invasion of their homes, according to Dunlap. The only goal is to make sure they are counted, and provide accurate demographic information about them and their households.
“Because quite frankly, the next 10 years of economic growth will depend on some of these programs that we can access when we get the correct numbers through the Census,” Dunlap said.
Mayor Rick Carmona mentioned the importance of an accurate count in obtaining state and federal grants for road improvement and community projects. Having precise Census data “will allow us to do our jobs a lot better,” he said.
Councilwoman Mayrani Velazquez noted that within Kaufman County, the Census has identified the area between U.S. Hwy. 80 and Interstate 20 as one that will be difficult to count. That area largely encompasses District 2 and District 3 in Terrell.
She said she and Councilman Grady Simpson will be involved in trying to obtain an accurate count by staying connected to their communities.
Said Simpson: “It’s at the very top of my agenda” and he pledged to work with Velazquez and the EDC in any way that he can.