March 27, 2009 | Marion Star | Original Article

Filling out census form benefits Marion County

You know how you go home, tired at the end of the day, stop at the kitchen counter and go through your mail to sort out all of the junk? It feels like at least once a week someone wants me to fill something out and send it in when I don't have the time or energy to even get the laundry done. It's certainly not on my list of priorities - with one very important exception: the 2010 Census.

I know, I know, it's a pain in the neck to fill out and you're only one person so it won't make a difference whether you fill it out or not. Wrong. Our federal government uses the census data to determine how much of the $300 billion in federal funding distributed across the country each year comes back to Marion County. We literally lose money on an annual basis for each person not counted.

Also, although Ohio has increased in population, it has not increased proportionately with the rest of the country; as a result we will lose one and possibly two congressional seats. This loss in representation and the possible undercount of Ohio residents will seriously hurt us at a time that we can't afford it on either a county or state level.

So how is the census count used? The federal government uses population data to allocate funds in a number of areas, for example:

  • Title 1 Grants to local school districts
  • Head Start Programs
  • Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • Public transportation
  • Road rehab and construction
  • Programs for the elderly
  • Emergency food and shelter
  • Job programs

    Census information also helps potential residents research property values, median income and other demographic information about our community. Businesses contemplating a move here use the population data for market research to determine optimum locations for food stores, pharmacies and a host of other services

    As someone who spends her time trying to advance the common good in Marion County, I understand the value in all these things.

    If you're worried about confidentiality, let me assure you that your answers are protected by law (Title 13 of the U.S. Code, Section 9) and are strictly confidential. No court of law, not even the President of the United States, can access your individual responses. As a matter of fact, Census Bureau employees are subject to a $250,000 fine and or a five-year prison term for disclosing any information that could lead to your identity.

    So, there is no excuse. I will make the time to answer ten simple questions if it means that I can help bring money and business to Marion County. After all, this is my home and this is my responsibility. I hope you feel the same.