Census Data Impacts Funding For Municipalities, Representatives

National Census Day only happens once every 10 years. And representatives from the United States Census Bureau, along with Wheeling city officials, are “raising awareness” of the importance of collecting the Census data.

A news conference was held Tuesday in the lobby of the City-County Building in Wheeling, emphasizing the need for the Census questionnaire that will be sent out to all Americans by mid-March.

“If you don’t fill out the questionnaire the Census will not accurately be able to define the needs of the community,” said Richard Hartman, senior partner specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau and producer of the Census Road Tour for this region, which includes West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan.

“It’s important that everyone fill out their Census questionnaire because it benefits you directly,” Hartman said. “This is not bureaucratic junk mail that we’re going to be sending you in the middle of March. This is important information that benefits your community and if you step out of the picture and don’t fill out that form, we lose you and the potential dollars you represent for 10 years. … That’s a terrible price to pay for not filling out the 10 questions that we’re going to be sending you.”

Hartman said he believes the city of Wheeling has one of the best “urban rail-trail systems” in the county, pointing out funding for that project came from federal transportation dollars.

He said, “How much West Virginia, how much Wheeling gets, how much Ohio County gets depends in part on how many people are here and what types of people – elderly, families, that sort of thing.”

“If your wanting to look at senior centers that are going to be federally funded … How many seniors do you have?” Hartman cited as one example for the importance of the questionnaire.

Robert Herron, Wheeling city manager said, “It’s very important to Wheeling and the state of West Virginia, because not only do you need to be counted, the information that you provide is very valuable going forward for the next 10 years. It also dictates a lot of what the state and federal formulas are calculated on based on population. So it’s important to us in Wheeling that every single citizen be counted and counted in the appropriate way. And I’m sure that the Census Bureau will do everything they can to make sure that happens.”

According to information provided by the Census Bureau, the Census is important because it determines the distribution of more than $300 billion annually of government funding for critical community services. It generates thousands of jobs across the country. And it impacts people’s voice in Congress.

The Census is a count of everyone residing in the U.S. It includes people of all races and ethnic groups, both citizens and non-citizens. Census Day is April 1 and the questionnaire responses should represent the household as it exists on this day.

The U.S. Constitution requires a national census once every 10 years. The census will show state population counts and determine representation in the U.S. house of Representatives.

All Census questionnaires will be delivered or mailed to households via U.S. mail by mid-March and includes 10 questions for each member of the household. The information provided to the Census is kept completely confidential.