Census forms arriving at Summit homes | SummitDaily.com

Census forms arriving at Summit homes

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** FOR RELEASE SUNDAY, MARCH 7, AND THEREAFTER ** In this Sept. 20, 2009 photo, Elsie Eiler stands near the bar and grill she owns in Monowi, Neb. Eiler is Monowi's entire population, yet Census estimates from this summer and a road sign outside the town say that there are two Monowians. (AP Photo/Nate Jenkins)

SUMMIT COUNTY – Census workers are hitting the streets of Summit County this month, 220 years after President George Washington signed a measure authorizing the first U.S. census on March 1, 1790.

Crews in the local area, and across the country, are attempting to “count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.”

The 2010 census is a count of everyone living in the United States on April 1, 2010, and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Census data are used to apportion congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to tribal, state and local governments each year and to make decisions about what community services to provide.

For each person who completes a census form, about $880 in federal tax money flows back to the community each year in the form of funding for local programs and services.

“The county has a variety of programs funded by the federal government,” said Rich Ferris, of Summit County government. “It’s also really important for county and local governments, so we can make sure we understand the makeup of our community.”

Colorado gained one seat in Congress in 2002, based on population growth documented in the 2000 census.

The 2010 census form will be one of the shortest in U.S. history, consisting of 10 questions, taking 10 minutes or less to complete. The form asks for name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship status and home ownership. Residents should mail their completed forms back to the government in the provided postage-paid envelopes by Census Day, April 1.

About 50 percent of Summit County residences have already received their questionnaires. All residents should have their forms by Census Day.

The federal government has hired census workers to hand-deliver questionnaires in rural areas like Summit County where residents receive their mail in P.O. boxes. Census workers will spend an estimated 21,000 hours delivering forms in the county, according to Wendell Hennessey, a field-operations manager based in Grand Junction.

Strict confidentiality laws protect the respondents and the information they provide. The government uses census data for statistical purposes only, and does not link respondents’ identities to their questionnaire responses.

According to Hennessey, all census workers have government-issued identification badges and black-and-white census bags. Census workers will not conduct interviews or ask for individual identity-related information such as Social Security Numbers.

“They only questions they’ll be asking will be about address verification, like if a P.O. box is associated with that address or whether there is any additional separate living unit at that location,” Hennessey said.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or jsutor@summitdaily.com.

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