By Jordyn Kalman
“Hillsborough County is one of the fastest growing counties in the entire country; however, only 75 percent of our residents fill out the census on average,” Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Lesley “Les” Miller Jr. said, “That leaves a lot of people unaccounted for.”
With the 2020 census less than a year away, Miller has led county-wide efforts to raise awareness about the importance of this once-in-a-decade population count by leading the Complete Count Committee, which held a kick-off meeting at the Seminole Heights Garden Center on Monday, May 20.
The event was funded by the U.S. Census Bureau and was free to the public. During the meeting, attendees created volunteer-run subcommittees aimed at educating key areas of the community, Miller said.
The committees include: Business and Industry, Faith and Cultural-based organizations, Media and Promotions, Neighborhoods and Community-based organizations and Public Service and Education.
“That’s the important part of getting this campaign started early,” Miller said, “So we can teach as many people as possible when, how and why they need to complete their census forms.”
Another focus of the Complete Count Committee is informing people the census survey is shifting to a mostly online format for the first time ever next year, Miller said. Residents can now submit their forms online, on a tablet, over the phone or through the mail.
“We need to get every person counted at Hillsborough County and the state of Florida using any mechanism we can possibly get,” Miller said.
The 2020 census will determine what share of $675 billion dollars in federal funds the county will receive to spend on schools, hospitals, roads and highways, infrastructure, public safety, emergency preparedness and social service programs over the next ten years.
The results are also important on a national level. It decides the number of elected officials Florida will have in the US House of Representatives and how voting districts will be redrawn.
“This census will determine our future,” Miller said, “When the time comes to fill the survey out, please do it. We want it to get it to get as close to 100 percent as we possibly can this time.”
To get involved with a subcommittee, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/residents/citizens/2020-united-states-census.