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Local leaders worried about Census response rates

As of Monday, more than 58 percent of Troup County residents have taken the 2020 U.S. Census. 

That number shows that Troup County has fallen behind other neighboring counties. Heard County has seen a participation rate of 62.5 percent and Harris County is at 63.8 percent. 

According to the Census website, a total of 54.8 percent of LaGrange residents have taken it. 

“I am concerned about the response rate,” said LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton. “We are just below the county’s response rate. What is going to happen is if we stay at a lower response rate and a low count, then it is going to have long-term implications for the allocation of state and federal money.” 

Thornton said a low response rate could also change districts in the city and in state legislative districts. 

Troup County Board of Commissioners Chairman Patrick Crews said each person counted in Troup County equates to about $1,600 in funding.

“All of those districts are going to be redrawn next year,” Thornton said. “The lines will not accurately reflect the population if we don’t get everybody to respond. The problem is that it sticks with us for 10 years. It is not a, ‘oh we will fix it next year.’ No, it is a ten-year cycle and that is really disturbing.”

A total of 54.1 percent of Hogansville residents have taken the census, and 52.4 percent of West Point residents have taken it.  

“First of all, the census is so important for the community of Hogansville and for everyone in the county,” said Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz. “It is important to count everyone. We have had ESPLOST money given based on our census results. Last time the census was taken, we had more than 60 percent of our community respond. So, hopefully we surpass that this time.”  

Georgia as a whole has only a 58% response rate. 

The Census Bureau has extended the self-response deadline to Oct. 31. 

“It only takes about five minutes to respond, and I ask that every resident please take the time to respond,” Thornton said. 

In March, the U.S. Census suspended all field operations, meaning no one is going door-to-door to ensure people have received their census and are filling out the forms.

Those who have not yet completed the 2020 Census can visit my2020census.gov or respond by phone or paper mail with details available at 2020Census.gov. 

Local officials are encouraging people to count everyone who lives in their home, including relatives, non-relatives, friends and roommates. 

Also, count all children and babies who were born on or before April 1, 2020.

Crews asked anyone interested in encouraging residents to take the census to reach out to  Valerie West, or email vwest@troupcountyga.gov.