Mandan News

Wilfred Volesky: The 2010 United State Census is coming

This fall the Mandan School District was asked to have a member from our school district become a member of the 2010 Complete Count Census Committee. The Complete Count Committee is a team of community leaders assembled to develop and implement a locally-based outreach and awareness program for the 2010 Census.

The team’s focus is to promote the 2010 Census in the Mandan Community to ensure that every resident in the area is counted. The community leaders on this committee are the most qualified to understand the best way to reach the entire population that resides in their area. The team is also best suited to mobilize community resources in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

The school board member selected Kirsten Baesler to be on this committee. In addition, the school board was asked to sign a proclamation which stated that as a school district we would be committed to partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to help ensure a full and accurate count in 2010. One of the promises that I personally made was to write an article in my March monthly column informing the residents of Mandan about the upcoming Census. Hence, this is my article containing information about the 2010 Census.

The U.S. Constitution requires a national census be taken once every 10 years.  The last census was taken in 2000. The census is a count of everyone living in the United States, including citizens and noncitizens. Participation in the 2010 Census is required by law. If a resident does not respond to the census, the courts could impose up to a $5,000 fine.

During the month of March census forms will be delivered to every residence in the United States. Delivery for the vast majority of Americans will be through mail delivery. Some remote areas of the state may have a census worker deliver the census forms.

The 2010 Census questionnaire is supposedly one of the shortest in history since it is only 10 questions in length. The head of the household completes the form on behalf of every person living in the residence as of April 1, 2010. The form includes questions about race, age and ethnicity. The hope is that as soon as the form arrives it will be completed and returned in the postage-paid envelope provided. Each resident will have about two weeks to complete the form. If the resident does not return the form another form will be sent to them. If the resident still fails to return the form, a census worker will visit them to try to track down the necessary information. The more often that a census worker needs to be sent out the more expensive the census will become. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that it costs about $30 per person that does not return the survey. Every resident can help keep the cost of the census down by completing the form and returning it.

During the 2000 Census 72 percent of the residences in the nation completed the census form. In North Dakota 76 percent completed the form and in Morton County 81 percent of the residences completed the form. We hope to have a higher percentage of residences complete the form during the 2010 Census.

The information gathered from the census information is used in a number of ways. It helps the federal government determine how more than $400 billion in federal money will be distributed throughout the country. Communities receive federal funds each year for projects such as hospitals, job training centers, schools, senior centers, bridges, tunnels and other public work projects and emergency services. The larger your population, especially in some specialty groups, the better your chances are in getting a larger share of the $400 billion. It is estimated that every citizen that is not counted is worth $1,000 annually. Over a 10-year period this means that each citizen not counted may mean a loss of $10,000 of revenue to the state. As a school district the funding that we receive from federal programs relies upon the population in the state and especially in our local area. The data collected also helps determine the number of seats your state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. We need you to make sure that you are counted during the 2010 Census.

In the very near future you will be receiving your census questionnaire. Please take the 10 minutes that it takes to complete the form and return it immediately. Your cooperation will help ensure that we receive our share of necessary federal assistance within the next 10 years and help decrease the cost of the 2010 Census.