LIMA — A 10-question survey could mean millions lost or gained for the region.
The U.S. Census Bureau shipped out census questionnaires to millions of U.S. households Monday morning. And local officials are stressing just how important it is that residents fill then out when they arrive.
“Until we can get everyone to participate, we’re on the back side of this thing. We’re drawing down less money from the fed than we send,” said Tom Mazur, Regional Planning director and one of the coordinators of the local effort to improve census return figures.
At the last census, in 2000, just 73 percent of people in Allen County returned the surveys. That means 27 percent of residents were not counted, and the state and federal funding that could have come to the region was cut.
The surveys showing up in mail boxes this week include just 10 questions and should take about 10 minutes to fill out, said Allen County Commissioner Dan Reiff, who is co-chairing the local effort with Delphos Mayor Michael Gallmeier. Individual answers, by law, cannot be used for any purpose beyond the census count.
“Everything you do is, in fact, confidential. But we need to get a complete count,” Reiff said.
Households that do not return the census eventually will be visited by census employees hired to get the answers in person. Returning the surveys in the mail saves money for the Census Bureau and helps local officials keep tabs on the return count.
“This is very important to us as a community. This is what we need to do so we can get our share of the $4 billion that comes back to the states each year,” Gallmeier said.