Census preparations continue in Summit County
Summit County could lose nearly $45 million in federal funding over the next decade if it has the same census response rate as it did during the 2010 census — 55%.
That’s compared to what it would get if 100 percent of the estimated number of households respond to the upcoming census, which will be conducted next year.
County leaders, volunteers and census workers are already organizing to try to increase participation, doing preliminary work like canvassing neighborhoods to verify addresses.
In addition to affecting the state’s and county’s abilities to access a pool of nearly $1 trillion in federal funding, the decennial census also apportions political representation. Higher participation statewide, for example, may mean Utah gets an extra vote in Congress.
The Summit County Complete Count Committee is the group that’s working to make sure Summit County residents are counted. It includes volunteers, representatives from the League of Women Voters, County Councilor Glenn Wright, and the county’s Economic Development Director Jeff Jones, who has been spearheading the issue for the county. It works in close conjunction with census officials.
The committee is hosting a community information session from 10-11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the Christian Center of Park City, 1283 Deer Valley Drive. The session will be led by the area’s census local partnership specialist, Meredith Reed, and will be targeted at local leaders who are interested in getting involved.
Jones reported he or committee members have already made presentations about the importance of the census to the cities of Henefer and Kamas and are scheduled to present to Park City and Coalville.
One key to the effort is accessing “hard-to-count” populations, which current census data puts at about 8% of the county’s population, or roughly 3,100 people.
That’s where the presentations to local municipalities come in, as the committee is looking to local governments, nonprofits and service groups to help reach populations that may be disinclined to respond or haven’t been contacted about the census.
Jones wrote in an email to The Park Record that the committee hopes to add members from all across the county and to add diversity in its membership.
Other outreach efforts include preparing a mailer that will go out with property tax bills later this fall and requesting $10,000 in the 2020 county budget for census efforts, Jones wrote.
The Legislature appropriated $1 million to help with the census effort in a special session last month. That includes $500,000 for census outreach statewide and $500,000 focused on outreach to rural areas, minority communities and those with a lower socioeconomic status.
The law says the funds will not be appropriated until November at the earliest, and Jones said he has not received word of whether the county will receive money or how much.
The process is ramping up as the calendar ticks toward Census Day on April 1. On March 12, the census is scheduled to go live online — a first in the count’s 229-year history. Leaders hope the increased access will improve response rates.
Residents will still receive census information at their homes, either through the mail or by hand delivery. If a household hasn’t responded by mid-April, it will receive a questionnaire through the mail. A census worker will follow up in person in May if the household still has not responded, according to the county’s website.
On Tuesday, the Area Census Office, which will serve as the management center for local census takers and supervisors, held a grand opening in Orem, according to a news release. The other regional office, in Salt Lake City, opened Tuesday as well.
The census is paid for by the federal government, and the government is looking to hire thousands of people across the country to help with the effort, according to its website.
Information about those jobs is available at 2020census.gov/jobs or by calling 855-JOB-2020.
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