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New census policy confuses some
Forms will be hand delivered to those with P.O. Boxes
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Census Day has come and gone, but some Hall County residents still have not received their forms.

For the 2010 census, the U.S. Census Bureau will hand deliver forms to those who receive their mail at a post office box in an effort to increase participation among P.O. Box holders.

Lula Mayor Milton Turner said he isn’t so sure about the technique.

Turner said people are confused as to why they haven’t received a census form yet.

“I’m concerned that people are not going to be counted,” Turner said. “People won’t answer the door, won’t return phone calls and that kind of thing.”

Phillippa Lewis Moss, co-chairwoman of the Hall County Complete Count Committee, said the U.S. Census Bureau did not release information about the new process until recently.

“With the abundance of information they were trying to disseminate and the huge amount of activities they had under their wing, this was a piece of information they didn’t expand upon until the census was well under way,” Moss said.

“The majority of people I’ve spoken to have expressed concern and disappointment that they weren’t notified earlier.”

Turner said about 60 percent of Lula households receive their mail at a P.O. Box.

Turner said he worries that if the city does not get an accurate count, it will miss out on important tax dollars.

Each person in Hall County accounts for about $13,000 in federal grant funding. On a local level, sales taxes are distributed by population as recorded by the census.

“That means more to Lula than the federal funds,” Turner said.

“That’s how we’re able to roll back our ad valorem tax and keep it at zero.”

Turner said the city sent a letter to residents explaining the situation and asking them to come to Lula City Hall to fill out a census form. The city hall is an official questionnaire assistance site with a bilingual U.S. Census Bureau representative.

“We’re trying to take a proactive approach,” Turner said.

Despite confusion, Moss said she hopes the U.S. Census Bureau’s approach will be effective.

“When you think about the process and the reason behind not dropping them off in P.O. Boxes, it completely makes sense,” Moss said.

“I could have a P.O. Box in Gainesville, Fla., and Oakland, Calif., and 10 other places.”

Bill Lightfoot, co-chairman of the Complete Count Committee, said it’s important to be cooperative with the new method because of the long-term implications on the community.

“What we really appreciate from our end is the fact that people are concerned,” Lightfoot said.

“What really counts, despite any frustration people might have in the short run, is just getting that form completed. ... We need every person in this county to be counted so we get our fair share of tax dollars back.”

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