State and federal money doesn’t follow the need, it follows the numbers.
The U.S. Census is the one-stop-shop data source for how communities are funded through state and federal programs, how lines are drawn for U.S. House of Representatives, South Carolina State House and municipal government seats and how economic development programs are also funded.
Those are the crucial reasons Bluffton Town Council members are urging every Bluffton resident to “take 5 minutes to make it count for Bluffton.”
“The good news is about 61% of the Bluffton community has responded to the U.S. Census,” Mayor Lisa Sulka said. “Bluffton is in line with the national average and is beating its neighboring cities and towns in its response rate. However, as one of the fastest growing communities in Beaufort County, the state and the Southeast, it is imperative more people take five minutes to fill out the Census so the town can be eligible for numerous state and federal programs.
“The five minutes each resident spends will enable the Town to better provide for the entire community.”
Mayor Sulka said for example, the town depends on Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to help fund the town’s multi-million-dollar sewer installation projects. The town also regularly applies for state funds from South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SC PRT) for its parks and amenities such as the M.C. Riley Sports Complex, Oyster Factory Park, DuBois Park and the Calhoun Street Regional Dock.
“We hear all the time how much our open spaces, parks and amenities mean to the quality of life of our residents,” Sulka said. “We need our residents to help us right now so the town can continue to provide community support through needed projects and programs through the next decade.”
How to Fill Out the Census:
Residents have the following options to fill out the U.S. Census:
• Fill out the paper form using blue or black ink. This form was sent to residents in March by the U.S. Census Bureau.
• Call 844-330-2020 (English) or 844-468-2020 (Spanish)
• Go to www.my2020census.gov.
Each process is expected to take between 3-10 minutes, depending on how many people live in each household. The Census does not require an ID. The most important aspect of filling out the Census is to record your address correctly.
Each resident is reminded the Census is not allowed, by law, to share any personal identifying information with any agency or organization.
Coronavirus challenges the Census response rate:
The U.S. Census Bureau sent several reminders in March to each resident. In past years, if a household had not filled out the Census, a Census worker would conduct door-to door visits to encourage the response rate. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, those workers have been sidelined as well as Census workers who would normally attend community and special events.
Currently, South Carolina is tied with Hawaii at 39th in its response ranking. South Carolina has a 55.9% response rate, Beaufort County’s response rate is 46.4% and Bluffton’s response rate is 61.3% according to a June 15, 2020 data sheet from the U.S. Census Bureau.