While headlines about coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) dominate media coverage, something else that’s very important — the U.S. Census — is barely getting a mention, Pasco officials say.
Maj. James Mallo, of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, spent a few minutes talking about the census during an April 24 virtual town hall meeting, hosted by Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey.
“The census has taken a backseat,” Mallo said, and added that it’s vital that Pasco County gets an accurate count to be sure that it gets its fair share of federal tax dollars.
“The last I looked at it, we were at about 53% (participation). We definitely want to see as close to 100(%) as possible.”
“We have to do a better job,” Mallo said.
“It’s never been quicker. It’s never been easier. You can do it by phone. You can do it by Internet. You can do it by paper,” he said.
“It took me about 3 minutes to complete mine,” he added, emphasizing the ease of the process.
He also assured those listening: “The U.S. Census keeps your information safe and confidential.”
Mallo said he can’t overstate the importance of everyone being counted.
“It controls $675 billion of federal funds,” he said.
Census data is used to divvy up federal money for health, education, housing and infrastructure, he explained.
The data helps assign funding for things such as school lunches, special education programs, Medicaid, and Head Start. It also helps determine the need for roads, hospitals, schools and other types of public infrastructure.
“It directly impacts the safety and security of our county,” added Mallo, noting that he’s keenly interested in ensuring that protection.
Besides providing useful information for government leaders, census data is important to private business owners because it can help to guide their decisions.
Census data also plays a role in government representation. It determines how many representatives a state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The thing is, we only get one shot every 10 years, so I really, really want to stress the importance of everybody just doing one simple thing,” Mallo urged listeners.
“If people realized how many things it will affect for so long, people would run to fill out the census. It’s just that important,” he said. “We deserve our fair share of federal funding.”
Commissioner Starkey agreed: “We can’t stress that enough.”
If you have questions about the census, visit 2020Census.com, or call (844) 330-2020.
Published May 06, 2020