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City Council asked to approve Census committee

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Roswell’s primary Census 2020 Complete Count Committee is expected to have representatives from nine sectors of the community. A group meets in Seattle in September 2018 in this Census Bureau photo. (Submitted Photo)

Roswell and Chaves County residents soon will be chosen for a local Census committee to help ensure that as many people as possible get counted in 2020.

During its regular monthly meeting on Thursday night, the Roswell City Council is scheduled to consider a resolution to establish the Census 2020 Complete Count Committee.

The decennial population count holds a lot of significance locally, according to local leaders and U.S. Census Bureau documents, including its ties to federal funding for a wide array of projects and its importance in promoting the city to potential employers and businesses.

Statewide population counts also determine state and local election boundaries, school boundaries and Congressional representation.

The city of Roswell Planning and Zoning Department and Bill Morris, Community Development manager, are leading efforts to create the local governmental committee.

Morris or another city staff member is expected to present the proposed resolution during the Thursday meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. and is held at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center, 912 N. Main St.

City of Roswell staff did not respond to a request for comment by press time, but the draft resolution indicates that the 2020 count “affects the amount of federal revenue distributed for roads, schools, libraries, senior centers, day care centers and hospitals.”

According to the Consolidated Federal Funds Report of 2010 published by the U.S. Census Bureau, Chaves County received $111.3 million in federal direct payments and $175.2 million in federal grants.

The city resolution also states that the information, which includes ages, income, ethnicities and other demographics, is “critical to planning for future growth, development and social needs.”

John Mulcahy, Roswell/Chaves County Economic Development Corp. president, said the census numbers are frequently used by business owners or site selectors when determining whether to locate in the area.

“Successful economic development is dependent on population growth,” he said.

At the current time, the Roswell committee is expected to represent nine sectors of the community: public education, the city of Roswell, the county of Chaves, business and industrial leaders, faith-based entities, community service and civic groups, Hispanic community leaders and undercounted populations from the 2010 Census, which could include such groups as those without housing, people living in communal settings and populations that do not speak English.

The name of the local Complete Count Committee representatives or the exact number has not been determined yet. The group is expected to meet or communicate at least monthly until the end of August 2020.

Sectors on the committee are also expected to create one or more of their own count committees — such as tenant association committees, veteran committees or college student committees — to reach the people in their circles.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau publication, about 10,000 Complete Count Committees were formed for the 2010 Census, with most of them organized and run by local governments.

The committees are expected to announce the upcoming Census using government publications, events, mailings and media announcements. They are also expected to alleviate concerns about participating or answer questions about the purpose and nature of the survey and to help facilitate direct contact with hard-to-reach population groups.

By mid-March 2020, adults should have received their Census survey, either by mail or from Census workers. Participation is required by federal law, which also mandates that all responses are to be kept confidential. This year, for the first time, responses can be given online, but they also can be mailed or emailed.

A potential question about whether people identified on the surveys are U.S. citizens has been the subject of lawsuits filed by several states, including New Mexico, and is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. A decision in the case is expected this summer.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.