Will the real Liberty County please stand up and be counted?
As residents of Liberty County, Georgia, we are being asked to spare just minutes for the good of the country by filling out the 2015 Census Test online — a small action that can lead to improvements in communities across our nation and save up to $5 billion in taxpayer dollars through research and testing for the next census.
The Savannah area — 20 Georgia and South Carolina counties — was chosen for the test because of its population density, demographic diversity and mixed rates of residents who have Internet access. It is a rich racial, cultural and economic tapestry that is a microcosm of the United States.
The once-a-decade count of America’s residents is coming in 2020, and the Census Bureau wants to improve how the census is taken. Our participation in the test from March 23 through May 31 will provide, we hope, plenty of answers.
The census count is huge, but it starts with each person and the ripple effects of his or her being counted. The numbers help leaders in your community and across the nation make decisions about where to build roads, hospitals and schools. Changes in population point to where businesses might want to open new stores and how voting districts are drawn. For the first time in 2020, the Internet will be the suggested way to respond to the census.
That’s where we come in. We in Liberty County are asked to be among the first to complete a census questionnaire online, to help the Census Bureau understand the best ways to reach the public through the Internet — and to figure out how those factors and others would affect America’s participation. The test census can be filled out using a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. The online survey is confidential, secure, and easy to use.
The once-a-decade census is only as accurate as we and our neighbors make it. We need everyone to participate, whether you live in a rural or urban area, are young and on the go or established in your community, census participation ensures that communities receive their appropriate congressional representation and fair share of federal funds. It is exciting to realize that the findings of this test census will help shape operations for the 2020 census, with the potential to save taxpayers up to $5 billion from the projected cost of conducting the census using established methods from previous censuses.
As the assistant administrator representing Liberty County, I care deeply about our community’s participation in the 2015 Census Test. In fact, I have volunteered my time to encourage my neighbors to participate. Ultimately, an accurate accounting through your participation in the next census will help our county gain access to resources and programs that enrich our society and improve our families’ quality of life.
By participating in the test today, we are not just saving taxpayer dollars right here in Liberty County, but we are also investing in the future of our community. Your participation helps us know what our community looks like socioeconomically. That helps county leadership properly market our community to attract new industry, generating employment opportunities that strengthen our economy and our families.
Accurate accounting also helps county leadership allocate resources to Liberty County families to develop additional, affordable housing and to advance our schools to prepare our children for work and fulfilling, productive, self-sufficient lives. It is critical that every member of our community stand up to be counted as part of the fabric of Liberty County and its future prosperity.
In the coming weeks, you will be hearing a lot more about the 2015 Census Test. I hope you’ll pay attention, participate promptly and encourage your neighbors to do the same. If each of us stands up to be counted in the test this spring, we can show the nation the real Liberty County.
To participate in the 2015 Census Test, visit census.gov/2015.
Sprinkel is assistant Liberty County administrator.