A senior partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau told officials gathered Monday at the Frances Meadows center that although the 2010 Census is months away, the time to prepare is now.
Gerson Vasquez told county and municipal officials from Hall County that Georgia stands to gain another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives with next year’s census data, but raising awareness of the importance of the count will be incumbent upon representatives of local governments, Vasquez said.
"We all must work together," Vasquez said.
The fact that each person counted translates to an average of $1,000 in federal funding for each community is important to local governments, Vasquez said.
"Every person brings money," Vasquez said.
Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew said the 2010 count may be important to Hall County, because it could move the county into an "entitlement community" status — a county with a population of 200,000 — and make the county eligible for more funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Andrew said the governments should work together to make sure everyone in their communities is counted.
"If we don’t get that 200,000 this time, then we’d have to wait a whole other decade to become an entitlement community," Andrew said.
Gainesville Mayor Myrtle Figueras agreed that local officials must talk with each other and residents in order to reach out to and make sure the county’s migrant population is counted. The census counts all residents whether they are US citizens, immigrants or living in the country legally.
"Somehow, we’ve got to communicate, because the services are being used," Figueras said.
Last month, a census office opened in Gainesville that will serve as the administrative headquarters for the census process for 31 Northeast Georgia counties including Hall, Jackson, Dawson, Banks, Lumpkin and Gwinnett.