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Census crucial to county

Those cards that come in the mail or that knock on your door could be important as Butler County and the nation gear up for Census 2020.

Butler County Commission Chairman Joey Peavy said making sure everyone in the county is counted is crucial for many things, including a variety of government funding. Peavy spoke with members of the Civitan Club Monday night at Beeland Park and has been mentioning the importance of the Census in conversations across the county recently.

“People definitely don’t need to be afraid of the Census,” Peavy said. “It’s not something that’s going to be reported to the IRS. Any person that collects information for the Census has taken a sworn oath and cannot share your personal information with the federal government as far as how much you make and that kind of stuff. It’s nothing to be scared of.”

Peavy said that people need to be upfront when participating in the Census.

“They need to include all of their children,” he said. “So much of the federal aid is designed around the kids. They need to include every child. The federal government gives out $675 billion and the last Census that we took in Alabama in 2010, we only had a 72 percent count. It was very low. We’ve got to do better than that. We’ve got to be counted. The old saying goes that where the numbers go, that’s where the money goes.”

Peavy said Census counts affect hospitals, police, fire departments, schools road and bridges and more.

“It’s vital,” Peavy said. “In the State of Alabama we’ve had a slow population decrease. We’ve got certain parts like Huntsville and Baldwin County are getting hundreds of people per month, but overall, we in Alabama have been on a decline for several years as far as population.”

An additional concern, according to Peavy is the Congressional seats in Alabama.

“We currently have seven Congressional seats and it’s all based on population,” he said. “You definitely don’t want to lose any voice at all in Congress. Another thing that people need to understand is that on the last census, we got $1,567 per person counted and if they’re not counted, that’s almost $1,600 per person that the state of Alabama loses. It’s an astronomical amount of money.”

The census has been conducted since 1790, according to Peavy.

“It’s nothing new,” he said. “We’ve always had it. It’s just important that we get the word out this time and really get as many numbers as we can and get counted. The state and Gov. (Kay) Ivey are really pushing to get this out in the forefront.”

The actual Census will take place in 2020, but officials are working to get the word out early.

“It’s going to be easier than ever to participate,” Peavy said. “They are going to send you a postcard in April 2020. It is preferred that you go online and fill it out. If you’re not comfortable with the computer, there is a number you can call. If you don’t want to do that, you an fill out the paper and send it. If you don’t do any of the three, sooner or later somebody is going to knock on your door. You’re going to be asked regardless.”

Peavy said there are also jobs available with the Census for local people, information is available at www.2020census.gov

“They’ll be looking for people that know people in the community for those jobs,” he concluded. “It’s very important. Every state competes for the money. Every state is hoping the other states don’t have a good turnout. We get so much state and federal aid in Alabama. So much of our economy is based on federal and state funds coming in. That money goes right back into the local economy. If people get SNAP or WIC, that money goes back into the local economy almost overnight. It’s very important.”