Letter to the Editor
September 2, 2020 | View PDF
It’s summer in Richland County. Like you, my days are filled with sunburns, hard work, and spending time outside with loved ones. However, as your local librarian, there is one pressing topic that I would like to visit about with you: the 2020 Census. I know there is a lot going on right now and the census is easy to overlook, but the stakes are too high to do that, and our community has too much to lose if we don’t act quickly.
Right now, only 51.9% percent of Richland County residents have responded to the Census – that puts us at 20 out of 56 counties. Census efforts in rural Montana were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown and that means it is up to us to get every single Richland County resident counted. This year it’s easier than ever to respond – you can even do it on your cell phone.
Our county has a lot at stake during this census cycle – school funding, highway dollars, voting districts, emergency services, and business grants are all based on census data. The amount of federal dollars our local county government receives depends on our population, and our population is determined by census responses – each person not counted represents $20,000 in missed funds over the course of the next decade. We can’t afford to miss one single resident this year.
A rural community like ours has enough challenges these days. Imagine if a sizable portion of our population wasn’t counted just because our neighbors didn’t bother to respond to the census? What would be lost from our community fabric? How much more might you have to pay on your property taxes to backfill our school and road maintenance budgets? What would your kids miss out on if our schools and libraries are underfunded for the next ten years? What would it be like to have more legislators from other communities far away representing us in Helena and Washington, DC? Richland County is a special place for so many reasons, and we want to keep it that way. Responding to the census ensures that we get our fair share of funding to support our community.
On Aug. 11 census workers started door-to-door visits to households that have not yet responded – save yourself a visit by completing your census online or by phone right now at 1-844-330-2020 or http://www.my2020census.gov.
Do it for your neighbors, for your pocketbook, for our schools, roads, healthcare centers, and for the quality of life we all enjoy.
Be a good neighbor. Step up for our community today and complete the 2020 Census!
Kelly Reisig, Sidney-Richland County Library Director