City, census workers readying for El Paso County count

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Census workers are getting ready to begin counting people in El Paso County, and they’re looking for help crafting an outreach plan to ensure everyone is counted.

In hopes of attracting business and community leaders to form a “Complete Count Committee,” Mayor Lionel Rivera is hosting a census kickoff meeting from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. April 16 at City Council Chambers, 107 N. Nevada Ave.

“I hope the committee will develop an outreach plan to inform local groups and individuals, especially those citizens who are historically hard to reach in census counts, about the importance of an accurate count for Colorado Springs,” Rivera said.

Complete Count Committees are volunteer teams of community leaders from businesses, faith-based groups, ethnic/minority advocacy groups, schools, and media outlets.

An accurate count is important because the results determine how congressional districts are formed and how more than $300 billion in federal and state money is distributed for education, recreation and health programs.

“In a place like Colorado Springs, the count can be challenging because people are really spread out geographically,” said Colorado Regional Census Director Deborah Muehleisen. “We don’t have the challenge that other cities do because we don’t have a large minority population, but it will still take some work to make sure we get everyone counted.”

She said some minority populations are harder to count because in many cases there are language barriers or people who do not have citizenship have a distrust of government.

“But we don’t care about citizenship status,” Muehleisen said. “Those are still people who are using our system and our programs and we want to make sure we get the appropriate amount of money to fund them.”

During the 2000 census, El Paso County had an initial, mail-in response rate of 72 percent – good compared to the state’s 70 percent and some Western Slope counties’ 40 percent.

After mail-in tallies are received, workers begin door knocking in areas with low reporting numbers.

For more information about the census, visit www.2010.Census.gov.