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City Scene: Much is at stake for Folsom in census

By: Kerry Miller, Folsom City Manager
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The 2010 U.S. Census will have an enormous impact on Folsom and other cities across the country in the coming decade. It is important for all residents to understand that taking a few minutes to complete and return the simple 10-question survey can bring significant benefits to our community. Dozens of federal programs rely on census information to allocate funding for neighborhood improvements, public health, education and transportation. With recent decreases in the amount of money we receive from the state, it is more crucial than ever to achieve an accurate and complete count of our residents. Census data directly impacts how more than $300 billion per year in federal and state funding is distributed to communities. In California, approximately $1,300 per person will be lost over the next 10 years for every person not counted in Census 2010. In addition, census data also determines state legislative districts and congressional representation. If there is an undercount in California, the state is at risk for losing a congressional seat for the first time in history. Some may be surprised to know that who is counted is every bit as important as how many are counted. Census officials say it is generally more difficult to count lower-income people than wealthy people. A disproportionate count of people with higher incomes can produce misleading and inaccurate data about average income. Funding for vital education and health programs is based on average income, so it is critically important to obtain an accurate count of all residents. In the coming weeks you will receive a census survey in your mailbox. The new survey form has just 10 questions and is much shorter than the lengthy questionnaire used in Census 2000. After April 1, census workers will make follow-up visits to households that do not respond to the initial census questionnaire. The census, which is required by the U.S. Constitution and federal law, counts all children and adults living in the United States, both citizens and non-citizens. It also asks for names, sex, ages, dates of birth, race, ethnicity and how long you have resided at your current home. The Census Bureau is required to count everyone and report state population numbers to the president by the end of the calendar year. Some people may have concerns about confidentiality, and thus may be reluctant to respond to questions about personal information. All census information is confidential. Federal laws prohibit the census bureau from sharing an individual’s answers with anyone, including other government agencies. Census workers are required to take an oath to protect the confidentiality of all responses. Please join me in completing and returning the Census 2010 survey. Together we have the power to make a difference for our community in the coming decade. Kerry Miller is the city manager for Folsom. He can be reached at kmiller@folsom.ca.us.