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Mayor’s Corner: March 11, 2010

2010 U.S. Census Means Dollars and Cents for Westbury

Westbury residents should now be hearing and seeing a lot of advertising, news articles and other information about the upcoming 2010 U.S. Census.

The concept of conducting a census dates back to Roman times, where it was deemed necessary to count, on a periodic basis, the number of people living under the Imperial realm. The United States has been conducting a national census every 10 years since 1790, when the very first U.S. census was performed. The matter of counting all of the people who live in the nation may sound to many to be an unnecessary and trivial exercise. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Westbury, like all other municipal governments, school districts and service agencies, relies in part on federal, state, county and other sources of grants and aid to operate the village and deliver village services. In fact, each year, Westbury receives significant state and federal aid, the amount of which is dependent on the size of our village population. The larger the population, the more federal and state dollars we are entitled to receive. Census figures are used to determine how much local aid is provided for such important items as senior centers, youth programs, roads and public works projects, schools, and many other vital projects and services. So, as you can see, it is important that we make sure that every man, woman and child residing in our village is included in our final count.

The census aims at counting all people living in our village, not just those who live here legally. It is imperative that we count not only those who should be here, but all those who are actually here. By missing residents, or not counting carefully enough, we will be losing out on vital dollars and aid to which we are entitled. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that for every person that is uncounted, Westbury will lose $2,000 per year (or a staggering $20,000 over the next 10 years) in grants and aid. That would be a lot of money for us to lose out on, but fortunately a full and complete count is totally within our control.

I am urging each and every Westbury resident to cooperate fully in the Census 2010 process. Please, fill out your census form on time, send it in, and respond to any follow-up that is sent to you. Do not exclude persons who you think should not be counted, as everyone should be counted as long as they are residing in your home.

The Better Business Bureau suggests certain “dos and don’ts” in relation to participation in the census. These tips are very helpful, and include: asking for census worker identification if you are unsure that the person is actually an official census counter; not providing Social Security, banking or credit card numbers, as such is not required by the census; and not responding to supposed census-related emails, as the Census Bureau does not use email to contact residents.

One final note on Census 2010: Residents should be assured that, by federal law, any information that you provide to the U.S. Census Bureau is completely confidential and cannot be disclosed for any other reason, and the penalties for disclosure by the Census Bureau or its employees is very steep. No one should be afraid to participate or to provide as accurate information as possible.