Complete Count Committee members from across the North Country met at the United Way in Plattsburgh today to urge people to complete their U.S. Census form.
The Adirondack region, like most areas across the country, relies on federal funds for grants and programs. Many of the initiatives receive money based on their population. The 2020 US Census ends on September 30th, one month earlier than originally planned. United Way Executive Director John Bernardi says that makes it more urgent for people to complete their census form. “It’s very important that we have a complete count because it has a direct impact on the quality of life in our region. It impacts funding for things such as schools and hospitals. It affects government representation. It can have an impact on grant opportunities and various other human service programs and the resources that are import to address numerous issues across the region.”
Bernardi adds that Complete Count committees were formed in Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties in March to assure an accurate count across the North Country. “These are comprised of county officials, non-profit representatives, faith-based groups in some cases and individual residents. And these committees have been strategizing and implementing those strategies in order reach hard to serve and vulnerable populations across the region.”
Committee members were at the United Way to encourage people to self-respond or talk to census takers. Franklin County Economic Development Director Russ Kinyon says the census is more than feeding data to a federal agency. “For each person that doesn’t get counted we lose a share of that federal funding and that representation that is so critical to our communities. And the more resources and representation we lose the more that our locals are forced to bear in the costs that get passed on to our local residents. We also want to remind people that have second homes or seasonal homes, which are very common in the North Country here, that you would also need to fill out the census for those addresses as well.”
Clinton County Planning Department Director Glen Cutter noted there is short term urgency because of the long term implications. “From 1990 to 2000 we lost the Air Force Base in Clinton County so we lost about 10,000 people. That affected us quite a bit for potential economic development. Businesses looked at that and without paying much more attention sometimes made a decision about whether they were going to move to Plattsburgh. So the population affects how businesses look at whether or not an area’s growing or not and whether there’s room for them to come in and see profit. So that’s a big part of it as well.”
Democratic state Assemblyman D. Billy Jones represents the district: "It touches every facet of our daily lives. Why wouldn’t we take an extra couple of minutes and be counted and have our voices heard to take advantage of federal funding?"