It’s September in Granite County. As your County Commissioner, there is a pressing topic that I would like to visit about with you, one which is often out of sight and out of mind compared to other priorities: the 2020 Census.
I am concerned because only 29.7 percent of Granite County households have self-responded to the Census as of September 13th. That is the second-to-worst self-response rate of any county in Montana, placing Granite County as the 55th lowest response rate out of 56 counties. Census efforts have been compromised by the COVID-19 shutdown, like so many other aspects of our economy and daily lives, and that means it is up to us to get every single Granite County resident counted.
Our county has a lot at stake during this census cycle – school funding is based on census data and county roads don’t pave themselves. We work hard to make smart decisions with your tax dollars, and we combine your property tax funds with federal highway funds to grate and pave our roads and highways across the county. The amount of federal dollars we receive depends on our population, and our population is determined by census responses – each person not counted represents $20,000 in missed funds over the course of the next decade.
Alongside school funding and roads, census data also impacts funding for projects in our county, through:
• Highway planning and construction
• Federal Transit Formula Grants
• Formula Grants for Rural Areas
• Community Development Grants
• Capital Investment Grants
• Water and waste disposal systems for rural communities
In mid-August, census workers started door-to-door visits to households that have not yet responded – save yourself time and the hassle of a door knock by completing your census online or by phone today at 1-844-330-2020 or www.my2020census.gov.
Do it for your neighbors, for your pocketbook, for our schools, roads, healthcare centers, and for the quality of life we all enjoy.
Rural communities like ours have enough challenges these days. Imagine if a sizable portion of our population wasn’t counted just because our neighbors didn’t bother to respond to the census? What would be lost from our community fabric? How much more might you have to pay on your property taxes to back fill our school and road maintenance budgets? What would it be like to have more legislators from other communities far away representing us in Helena and Washington DC?
Be a good neighbor. Step up for our community today and complete the 2020 Census!
Granite County Commissioner Bill Slaughter
NOTE - The above article was submitted as editorial by Granite County Commissioner Bill Slaughter.