Local officials push filling out census

Susan Harrison, Loudon County Election Commission administrator, analyzes census data for the county.

With the turn of the new decade, federal and local government officials are urging citizens to complete the 2020 census as soon as possible.

A national census is conducted every 10 years by the United States Census Bureau.

“I’d like to remind people that they can get online and fill it out if they need to, but it’s so important to Lenoir City and Loudon County because of the federal dollars that will funnel down to the local people, to the local governing bodies,” Tony Aikens, Lenoir City mayor, said. “It’s just very important, and I would encourage everyone to fill it out. If they’ve got it in the mail, fill it out. They can go online if they want to. If they want to mail it in and try to get it sent back in because it’s just so important to the government agencies in Loudon County.”

The census plays an important role for federal, state and local funding.

“It’s extremely important to get an accurate population count because that’s how we get funding for infrastructure, for education, our health care facilities and things like that,” Jeff Harris, Loudon mayor, said. “We’ve got to have a good account of people, and I think the key number is that if around 50 percent are reported, if you’re above 50 percent, I think it takes you to another level of funding and things. It’s just crucially important that we get accurate counts because we won’t have another one for 10 years, so there’s a lot riding on getting our number accurate this time around.”

The Tennessee self-reporting response rate is currently at 59.1 percent, while Loudon County is at 68.2 percent as of Monday. The county ranks second in the state behind Williamson County at 72.4 percent, Susan Harrison, Loudon County Election Commission administrator, said.

“First of all, I think most of our citizens here in Loudon County are very responsible and I think they recognize it,” Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw, Loudon County mayor, said. “... It takes all of us everywhere inside the county, and I think people are doing their part. We need everybody to do their part, especially with something like this and the amount of money that it affects.”

All three mayors credit much of that success to Tellico Village, which has the northern area at a response rate of 87.7 percent.

“Last I checked, we were right around 56 percent, so we were doing very well,” Harris said. “I think one of the main reasons was I think Tellico Village has really took it to heart and they’re self-reporting out there at a high level, which has helped. We need to make sure we include all of Loudon, not just that area out there. We need people to take the same emphasis that they’ve taken, the same importance here locally in town.”

“From my understanding, they certainly have filled theirs out,” Aikens added. “The rest of the county needs to do the same, and I think that’s the reason the numbers are higher than someplace else.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau temporarily stopped all field data collection efforts. Steps are in place to reactivate field offices by June 1.

All in-person collection efforts, including interaction with the public, enumeration, office work and processing activities, will incorporate the most current guidance promote the health and safety of staff and the public.

The census can be filled out online, over the phone or by mail when an invitation is received. Harris said the online process is simple and quick.

“It just takes about five minutes, and I’ve actually done it online as well,” he said. “I’ve actually had several people that have told me they’ve done it online and have had the same results. It’s pretty easy to do, and they’ve got it to where it doesn’t take very long at all to complete the survey, the census. I think people just need to take a few minutes and the importance of it ... I think it’s time well-invested in their community if they just take the time to do it and realize the importance of it long term and how it can help.”

For more information, visit https://2020census.gov/en.html or call 844-330-2020.

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