‘Complete Count’ U.S. census panel could mean future benefits for Mohave County

April 16, 2019

Mohave County could join a statewide initiative by Gov. Doug Ducey to get the most accurate possible count from the 2020 U.S. Census. This could mean a substantial increase in federal funding, and possibly increased congressional representation.

Ducey, this year, encouraged Arizona counties to form “complete count committees” in preparation for next year’s census. The Mohave County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss the possible creation of such a committee at today’s meeting.

Mohave County Development Services Director Tim Walsh is asking for $75,000 in county funding to organize the committee, whose members would include Walsh himself, as well as County Assessor Jeanne Kentch, Public Health Director Denise Burley and Community Services Director Dave Wolf. The committee would also include five additional members, with one appointed by each of member of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors.

The census can have a broad impact on Mohave County within the next decade, according to Walsh. Billions of dollars in federal funding toward health, education, transportation, child and elder care, emergency response and welfare programs will all rely on an accurate count of how many people reside in Mohave County.

Nonprofit organizations, businesses and local governments also will require accurate data from the U.S. census in evaluating job development, investment, marketing guidance and determining the impact of educational, health and social programs, according to Walsh.

This impact comes at an estimated $675 billion to communities each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and Walsh says the creation of Mohave County’s “Complete Count Committee” would allow the county a fair share of political leverage and funding.

Next year’s census will see several changes from previous counts, however. According to the census bureau, field operations will be automated, and publicly-provided data will be used to reduce the number of in-person follow-up visits to nonresponding households. For the first time, residents also will be able to respond to the census online, by telephone or by mail.

While general information from the U.S. Census will be used to inform government and business initiatives nationwide, individual census information will not be shared with immigration or law enforcement agencies under federal law.

The U.S. Census Bureau must submit state population totals to the President of the United States by Dec. 31, 2020.

According to Walsh, the U.S. Census Bureau will provide training to the committee once it’s formed, and educate members on how best to accomplish its attempts at outreach next year.