Funding for vital services determined by 2020 data
It comes around once a decade, and while it might feel like a nuisance, the number of people who participate can make or break funding for services in any community.
April 1 is Census day. Schools and cities throughout the county hope no one gets missed.
Census data is used to determine how federal funding for cities, schools, and counties is apportioned.
Besides grant and loan money, Census data is used for:
- Supplemental nutrition assistance programs including senior commodities, food bank grants, summer lunch programs, and before-school breakfast programs.
- National School Lunch program.
- Section 8 housing vouchers and income supplement payments to landlords.
- Head Start programs
- State children’s health insurance program.
- Low-income home energy assistance — both winterization work and direct assistance with bills.
- Community Development Block Grants — which can be used for everything from fire trucks, community centers, infrastructure improvements, mental health programs and more.
- Rural business development grants — indirectly used to establish the E-Community loan program in Marion and Hillsboro.
Marion city administrator Roger Holter said that over the last three years, the city has received $2.8 million in federal grants for two Main St. projects as well as projects for East Park, the airport, Elm St., and water system infrastructure.
“We also qualified for a $3.9 million low-interest loan for our water project,” Holter said.
The city will disburse information on Census questions and the reasons they are asked this month.
It has also made arrangements with the food bank to make computers available and to provide help to anyone who needs assistance with the forms.
The first letters to Marion residents about filling out Census information online will arrive March 12 to 20, Holter said.
A reminder letter will be sent March 16 to 24. Postcards will go out March 26 to April 3. Reminders and paper forms will arrive April 8 to 16. Final reminder letters will arrive April 20 to 2. After that, households that have not completed Census information will get calls and visits from Census takers.
“From my perspective, it’s important that everyone take a few minutes to make their voice be heard,” Holter said. “This will impact the quality of life, programs, and community support for the next decade. A few minutes will make a large difference for our community.”
Hillsboro city administrator Larry Paine said the city was reminding people to take part in the Census on social media.
“We’re working with Tabor to make sure the students fill out the forms,” Paine said. “The Tabor count will be a large increase in the number for us.”
One of the real benefits to having an increased population is that sales tax and motor vehicle tax distributions are boosted when population increases, Paine said. Special highway funds are also based on Census data.
“In a small way, it helps us keep the budget under control,” he said.
Hillsboro will also work with Hillsboro schools to have students take home information for parents.
The city library will make computers available and provide assistance as needed in filling out Census forms.
“Completion of the form is very important to the community, particularly when businesses are looking to invest and you have increases in population,” Paine said.
Businesses examine what the city has, including why it’s growing.
Businesses and people want to live in communities that are moving forward instead of backward.
“One of the things that makes people want to live in a community is its ability to use federal funds to make the place look and feel better,” Paine said. “It helps out when everybody gets counted.”
In the past three years, Hillsboro has received a $628,057 grant with an 80/20 match for a hospital walking trail, a $34,923 heritage trust fund grant for repairs to the Schaeffler House museum, and a $123,721 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for fire department equipment.
According to Goessel city clerk Jennifer Bliss, Goessel was recently awarded up to $547,000 in federal grant money through USDA towards its sewer project.
“In addition, they have funded us a loan to cover other parts of the sewer project in the amount of $1,484,000 that will be paid back over 40 years,” Bliss said. “For a city our size, these amounts are significant.”