City to form complete count committee
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Although no vote was taken by the city council during their meeting August 26, Atmore Mayor Jim Staff presented a proclamation supporting the 2020 Census and promising formation of a “complete count committee” to help promote local participation in the 10-year population update.
The local committee has not yet been selected, but the proclamation reads that the city will “bring together a cross section of community members who will utilize their local knowledge and expertise to reach out to all persons of our community” and that the committee “will work with the Census Bureau to strive for an accurate count.”
Data derived from Census 2020 will help determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and could affect redistricting of state legislative seats, as well as voting districts for county commission and city council seats.
“This is going to be an important issue, because the state can’t lose that last seat,” Staff said.
Census Partnership Specialist Jean Hogue accepted the proclamation. She noted how financially important an accurate Census count could be to the city, county and state, while also assuring citizens that their privacy would not be compromised.
“The government has $675-plus billion to give away annually,” Hogue said. “We want to make sure this area gets their piece of the pie; we want to make sure everybody is counted; we want to educate the community to know that the Census is safe and secure, that your information is not shared. We will never ask for your Social Security number.”
She also mentioned the possible loss of representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and pointed out some of the programs that could be adversely affected by an inaccurate Census count.
“We want to let people know what the census is, what it’s used for,” she said. “It is used for your roads, for Head Start programs, free lunches in schools, all those things in addition to (congressional) seats. We want to get the word out to everybody how important it is to please, please take their census.”
City Attorney Larry Wettermark, who attended the meeting for unrelated reasons, also chimed in on the significance of an accurate Census count.
“I can stress the importance,” he said. “I’m helping the city of Mobile, and one of the things we found out there is that some of the grants you depend on are done by brackets. Had Mobile added about 6,000 more people, it would be getting — on grants they have in place just for law enforcement — an additional $10 million a year.
“If Atmore achieves the next bracket, on any number of grants it has a significant effect on potential revenue for the city. That’s another reason whole community ought to get involved and make sure everybody is counted.”