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Census count determines federal funding for county services

May 7th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Tyson Thorpe

LOGAN–To the Chinese, 2010 is the year of the tiger. To the U.S. government, it’s the year of the census. And for many students at Utah State University it’s a new experience with mixed reactions.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s website , the bureau must conduct a population and housing census every 10 years. U.S. residents across the nation, including USU students living away from home, received a census packet in the mail.

Hayley Halversen, a major in special and early childhood education, said she forgot to fill out the census until she received a postcard reminding her to. She said she thinks the census is a good idea and is helpful for the government, although she is not quite sure of the full purpose in taking the census. She said she was also slow in filling out and returning the census. It took a reminder in the form of a postcard from the Census Bureau to get Halversen and her roommates to fill out the census.

Lindsey Garner, a public relations major, also needed a reminder. Hers came from a family member. “My dad called and told me to fill it out,” she said.

Garner, 21, said she was surprised at how easy the census was to fill out. Other students responded similarly.

“It was really easy,” Halversen, 21, said. “I wrote my name, checked about three boxes, and I was done.”

Angela Dixon, a biological engineering major, said it was a quick and “very painless” effort to complete the census.

The Census Bureau has been facing resistance in completing the 2010 census.

Halversen said she thinks people might be against the census because they feel the government is being too intrusive. But she said she thinks those people are silly because of how little information is requested by the census.

Dixon, 21, had a different view of those that have not returned the census. “I think people are just lazy,” she said.

Her husband, James Dixon, said he thinks some might be opposed to the census because it focuses so much on residents’ races.

He said some might see that as backtracking in an age when people are trying to not focus on race.

Cache County Executive Lynn Lemon said state tax commissions use the information from the census as a base for distributing sales tax based on population. If people in an area are not counted in the census then it affects the amount of funds the county receives, he said.

Lemon said Class B and city Class C road funds are also determined with information from the Census Bureau. Students that use the roads and other county services, but are not counted on the census, contribute to wear and tear of the county without being accounted for in the funds distributed by the government, Lemon said.

According to the Census Bureau, census information “helps to determine how more than $400 billion dollars of federal funding each year is spent on infrastructure and services.”

Lemon said in order for services to be appropriately funded students need to make sure they are counted for the 2010 census.

“The census doesn’t just affect funding, but also congressional districts,” he added.

The 2010 Census website states electoral districts must be “periodically adjusted or redrawn to account for population shifts.” Information gathered in the census helps this redistricting to be done.

Kiefer said students should fill out the census because it allows them to get involved. Once they get involved they can eventually affect state and federal policies, she said.

“Make it so you have influence in what goes on,” Kiefer said of filling out the census.


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