JENNINGS — Despite coronavirus concerns, one local official is pushing participation in the 2020 census.
Jeff Davis Parish Economic Development, Tourism and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Marion Fox said federal money for parish programs including roads, education, health care and more hinges on residents completing their census forms.
"Especially now with businesses closing and tourism decimated, especially now we need to get our share of federal money to help us rebuild," said Fox, who chairs the parish's Complete Count Committee.
Local households have already begun receiving census forms in the mail with a unique ID and instructions on how to fill out the questionnaire. The questionnaire takes only about 10 minutes to complete and can be done online, by phone or mail.
Data from the census will help determine Louisiana's share of $675 billion in federal funds earmarked for vital programs, she said.
"If residents don't complete the census, the parish and the state could miss out on federal funding," Fox said. "The census is the most important thing we will do this year."
The census data will also help determine the number of seats Louisiana will have in the Congress and to redraw congressional and state legislative districts.
The data is also used to attract new businesses to the state and local area, plan for future government services and forecast future housing and transportation needs.
"It's incredibly important that everyone in the parish takes this seriously and take part in the census," she said.
The parish's 13-member Complete Count Committee is seeking to increase public awareness about the census and see that every Jeff Davis Parish resident is counted. Flyers and emails are being distributed throughout the parish.
Information provided on the census is strictly confidential and cannot be shared with the IRS, FBI or any other government, she said.
Fox said it is important that everyone be counted, including those living in RV parks and other areas.
"Wherever you are living at the time is where you need to be counted," she said.
Census takers will visit households that do not return the questionnaire by the Aug. 14 deadline.
Under the U.S. Constitution, a national census must be done every 10 years.