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2020 Census wants to count everyone

By Staff | Feb 9, 2020

The Census is upon us.

In approximately one month, the 2020 United States Census will be in full-swing. According to U.S. Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Jim Accurso, who visited the Faribault County Board of Commissioners during their Feb. 4, meeting, there is a need for Complete Count Committees in the county.

Accurso stated three cities within the county have already signed up to have individual Complete Count Committees with the Census. These are volunteer-based committees established by tribal, state, and local governments or community leaders to increase awareness about the Census and motivate residents in the community to respond.

There was some concern from Commissioner Tom Warmka about the multitude of smaller townships not represented in the Complete Count Committees that were established.

“How are we going to get out to the rural folks in our county? We’ve got a lot of rural residents who may be pretty reluctant to share their information,” he told Accurso.

This year, the Census is only 10 questions. People can go online between early March and likely through the summer to answer their 10 questions. They’re going to get a mailer, too. The mailing process is going to take place over five phases. If someone doesn’t respond to the first phase, there will be a second mailer, a third, a fourth mailer with a questionnaire, and a fifth mailer. If there is not a response to that fifth mailer, a Census worker will contact them either in person or by phone.

“The good side of that is we definitely will be counting those folks who are less reluctant to respond,” Accurso added. “Because you need the population count, and an accurate one. Darren (Esser), you had mentioned that population in the county has been slipping?”

“Yes,” replied the county’s auditor and treasurer, Darren Esser.

“So, you will want an accurate count. I’ve got the county at about 13,966 as far as our count from the American Community Survey of 2016. But you want to make sure everyone is counted.”

He also mentioned that since its beginning in 1790, it has been mandated by the U.S. Constitution that everyone in the country be counted every 10 years.

“This Census is important to Faribault County.” said Accurso. “The distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on census data. That money is spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other important programs your county’s residents may be recipients of.”

This year, there will be three ways to send your Census data in: by phone, by mailers sent out by the Census, and online.

When it came to starting a Complete Count Committee, commissioners were slightly reluctant to jump on board. It wasn’t until after Wells City Administrator, CJ Holl, who was present at the meeting for other business, spoke up about the ease of what the city of Wells would be doing for their Complete Count Committee.

“Forming the committee isn’t heavy lifting. We have a plan of what we’re doing,” Holl said.

“Maybe the county can partner with the cities who have established these committees,” said commissioner Bill Groskreutz. Commissioner Loveall then made a motion to start on the county level to push the message out about the upcoming Census. A second was made by Commissioner Young, and the motion was passed.

Accurso also opted to follow up with township officials throughout the county to work on more Complete Count Committees.

In other portions of their meeting, the county commissioners spoke with Planning and Zoning administrator Loria Rebuffoni with regard to the county’s renewable energy ordinance, specifically to consider amendments to Zoning Ordinance Section 35, which would establish setbacks and other performance standards for solar facilities.

Rebuffoni stated she and her staff contacted the Planning Commission, as part of the solar and wind decommissioning working group. She told commissioners that the Planning Commission?has yet to have anything finalized and do not foresee any final results for another year.

“Counties are trying to take these ordinances on themselves,” she shared.?

The 24-page draft of the ordinance had some commissioners concerned about the ability for residents to follow through with the ordinance.

“We’re getting in deeper than we need to. I hate to make this even more difficult,” said Loveall. “Let’s make this as unbureaucratic as possible.”

A motion was made by Groskreutz to accept the amendments to the ordinance as presented, which was seconded by Commissioner John Roper. The motion was passed, with Loveall abstaining from the vote due to his personal involvement in a renewable energy project.

Public Works director Mark Daly requested a new survey pickup truck. The lowest bid they received was for a Dodge Ram Classic SLT from Marthaler dealership out of Worthington at the cost of $34,379, with an additional cost of $7,521 for a topper and toolbox attachment to the bed of the truck. Greg Young made a motion to accept the bid, with Loveall seconding the motion, which was passed.

Later, the commissioners went into closed session regarding County Ditch 24 litigation. The closed session began around 11:30 a.m. and the commissioners reconvened at 12:11 p.m.

The commissioner’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 18.