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City to form Census committee

Suffolk City Council approved a resolution Wednesday to support the 2020 census and establish a city Complete Count Committee.

The U.S. Census Bureau asks local governments and organizations to establish such committees to help with census outreach and promotional activities for the community, especially for historically undercounted groups.

Census Regional Partnership Specialist Kevin Krigsvold, spoke to council about the importance of getting an accurate count of the city’s population in the upcoming census.

“If even one person is undercounted, that equates to about $2,000 per person,” Krigsvold said.

Over a 10-year period, that one uncounted person would equate to about a $20,000 loss, which, for 1,000 people not filling out their census form, that’s a $2 million loss in federal dollars for one year and a $20 million loss over 10 years.

Krigsvold said the Census Bureau plans to use both traditional and new media to spread the word about the census, and he noted that census information is confidential, with responses used only to produce statistics.

He said a Complete Count Committee would increase the response rate for residents to return their questionnaire and would be able to use local knowledge and expertise to put together a census awareness campaign targeted specifically to Suffolk. If people fill out the form, Krigsvold said, it will help the city access the federal money it deserves.

“What we need from you is just outreach and promotion,” Krigsvold said.

Recruitment began in fall 2018 for early census operations, and will be renewed for peak operations in fall 2019.

Census day itself is April 1, 2020, People will be able to respond online, on the phone or through a paper questionnaire. By December 2020, the Census Bureau sends the population counts to the president for apportionment, and in March 2021, it will deliver redistricting data to states.

Krigsvold said the census helps track deep-level information such as median income, renter-occupied housing, language skills and ages of residents.

“What we’re looking for is your input,” Krigsvold said, “because you know the community better than we do.”