By JIM MAURER
STAFF WRITER

It’s almost time for the population to stand up and be counted as preparations are underway for the 2020 federal census.

For most of us, that will mean sitting down at a computer and completing the census questionnaire. Information will be outlined in a letter mailed to most residents. Those who don’t receive a letter will have information dropped off at their residence.

Failure to complete and return the questionnaire, done every 10 years, means they will receive additional notices and eventually a possible knock on their door to answer the questionnaire face-to-face with a census worker.

Homeless or transient individuals are a top priority, since individuals count where they are located when the census is undertaken.

Hancock County is in the process of forming a “complete count committee” to include a cross-section of the county population. The committee will encourage participation to complete the questionnaire through newsletters, websites, social media, news articles, or tax and utility bill notations.

Some organizations, for instance the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library, will have computers available to complete the census.

The effort is “merely a counting process for population and for no other reason,” Hancock County Commissioner Tim Bechtol said noting it won’t be used to find people who owe court fines or have outstanding arrest warrants.

The county committee met for the first time Thursday. Six individuals attended, plus county commissioners Bechtol and Brian Robertson. They would like 10-12 volunteers on the committee.

The online self-response will be available to residents in March 2020, and April 1 has been declared Census Day, when the big push is in place for completion of the questionnaires. The door-to-door canvass of non-responsive residents will begin in May.

Among its purposes, the census is used to determine the number of House of Representatives districts in each state. A decline in population may result in fewer representative seats, while an increase may result in more seats.

For local governments it could mean less in federal funds funneled to the state and eventually to the counties. For Ohio, the calculation is $1,814 annually per person not counted in the census. The state’s 2010 population was more than 11.5 million residents.

With a county population of about 75,000, and a Findlay population of about 42,000, the local impact could be significant, too.

Earlier Thursday morning, the commissioners signed a letter asking the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District “to take the lead” for use of a $15 million state grant included in the state budget.

The funds are to be used to develop a plan to reduce flooding along Eagle Creek, which traverses through the southern portion of the county before it meets the Blanchard River in Findlay. A retention pond adjacent to the creek, south of Findlay, has been one suggestion.

The conservancy district will continue to work with Stantec, a Canadian-based engineering/design company, to develop the plan.

Maurer: 419-427-8420
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