CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Census results determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding will be spent, determines congressional representation and more. With so much on the line, Chatham County leaders took a close look at how our area is responding.
Chatham County leaders have only had a 53 percent response rate. That’s 8 percent less than ten years ago.
The 2020 Census team has identified a few areas that have low response rates and will require different tactics to ensure everyone is counted. Another area low to report at this point is Tybee Island, but leaders say that’s because they have P.O. boxes so haven’t gotten the info, but they expect that to change.
Local leaders say the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their response rate, but they have been making extra efforts attending food distribution events and partnering with local organizations. With numbers down this year, Chatham County leaders are concerned about what that may mean for the money they see coming into the community.
“What’s disturbing about 2020 is we are eight percent behind where we were at in 2010 at this point. And I know that perhaps the COVID-19 has had an impact, but it really shouldn’t impact anybody from being at home since you have more time at home over the last couple of months to really fill out this census forms and to return it and I would certainly encourage everyone out there to please do so because this is going to be extremely important,” Chatham County Commission Chairman Al Scott said.
Census leaders say they are far from done yet. They are beginning their hand delivery of census items now and then will make in person visits later this summer to make sure everyone is counted.
In addition to a census update, Chatham County Commissioners also approved a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding of about $58,000. County leaders say this will be used to reimburse their costs for Personal Protective Equipment through the pandemic.
Commissioners are still looking to discuss the budget and how the pandemic has impacted it, they are working to plan a workshop next week with a public hearing to follow in June.