Guest opinion: Time is running out for Parkites to take the census
Leadership Park City Class 26
The Leadership Park City Class 26 “Census 2020 Awareness” Project Team has been working hard to help our Wasatch Back community become aware of the importance of participating in the census, despite the fact that our country has been in a constant state of crisis for the past several months. The truth is that, because of these crises, participating in the census is more important than ever.
Time is running out! The 2020 census data collection process ends on Sept. 30, so we only have a few days left to get this right!
The census determines the funding that we receive from the federal government over the next 10 years. Data collected from the census determines the distribution of more than $675 billion in funds to be used for education, transportation, infrastructure, fire stations, police precincts, hospitals and other public safety and social programs which are critical to help us recover from the drastic economic downturn we’ve experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each individual counted in the census adds $20,000 per year for the next 10 years of federal funding to our community. If Summit County has a low turnout of 55% that we had in 2010, we will lose over $45 million that we desperately need to recover and grow.
The unrest we are experiencing right now requires that we have the political representation we deserve. The census determines the number of representatives we get in Congress, the number of county and city councilmembers, and even school district members. The census also guides district boundaries for Congress, the Legislature, county commissions, city councils and school boards. In the 2000 Census, Utah missed out on a fourth U.S. congressional seat by just 857 people — showing the importance of counting EVERY individual in Utah. As of Sept. 15, Summit County is at 40.3% and Wasatch County is at 57.1% participation rate. Park City is only at 25.1%.
Many are uncomfortable participating in the census because of privacy and security concerns. It is important to let everyone know that there is no citizenship question and, by law, all information gathered by the census is confidential. Answers can only be used to produce statistics with no personal identifiers. Information gathered by the census cannot be used against individuals by a government agency or law enforcement such as the FBI, CIA or ICE. There are two ethnicity questions which can be ignored.
The census can be taken online at my2020census.gov, by phone by calling 1-844-330-2020, or by returning the questionnaire by mail. Those who use P.O. Boxes did not receive a questionnaire by mail. However, census takers have begun to personally distribute information directly to household doorsteps with important information.
If you own a vacation home, please take the census for that address and indicate “0” people living there. Renters should take the census rather than the landlords. But if you do own a rental property, please encourage your tenants to participate.
If you have not yet taken the census, what are you waiting for? If you have, thank you, and please share this information with your family, friends, coworkers and any organizations in which you are a member. We only have one chance every 10 years to get this right.
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F. Joseph Feely III writes in a guest editorial that he is concerned about the “likely impact of the extreme policy positions” Democrats will pursue if they win control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.