Bluffton leaders asking residents to ‘make it count’

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BLUFFTON, SC (WSAV) – Bluffton Town leaders are asking residents to “make it count” this summer.

They are asking everyone to take a few minutes and fill out the census, to help the Town get Federal and State money it needs.

The U.S. Census is the one-stop-shop data source for how communities are funded through state and federal programs, how lines are drawn for U.S. House of Representatives, South Carolina State House, and municipal government seats, and how economic development programs are also funded.

“It is estimated that every person that fills out the Census is worth about $3000 of federal funds,” explains Debbie Szpanka, Town of Bluffton PIO. “So if 100 people don’t fill out the census that’s $3 million in federal money blowing in the wind over the next decade.”

“The five minutes each resident spends will enable the Town to better provide for the entire community,” according to Mayor Lisa Sulka.

Mayor Sulka said, for example, the town depends on Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to help fund the town’s multi-million-dollar sewer installation projects. The town also regularly applies for state funds from South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SC PRT) for its parks and amenities such as the M.C. Riley Sports Complex, Oyster Factory Park, DuBois Park and the Calhoun Street Regional Dock.

“It gives us a lot of grant opportunities,” said Kim Jones, Bluffton Watershed Management Division Manager. “I’d like to say there are just one but there are probably a half dozen or more in the last ten years. It helps us know who our constituents are so we can tailor our local programs, not just projects.”

“We hear all the time how much our open spaces, parks, and amenities mean to the quality of life of our residents,” Sulka said. “We need our residents to help us right now so the town can continue to provide community support through needed projects and programs through the next decade.”

How to Fill Out the Census:

Residents have the following options to fill out the U.S. Census:

Fill out the paper form using blue or black ink. This form was sent to residents in March by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Call 844-330-2020 (English) or 844-468-2020 (Spanish)
Go to my2020census.gov

Each process is expected to take between 3-10 minutes, depending on how many people live in each household. The Census does not require an ID. The most important aspect of filling out the Census is to record your address correctly.

Each resident is reminded the Census is not allowed, by law, to share any personal identifying information with any agency or organization.

Coronavirus challenges the Census response rate:

The U.S. Census Bureau sent several reminders in March to each resident. In past years, if a household had not filled out the Census, a Census worker would conduct door-to door visits to encourage the response rate. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, those workers have been sidelined as well as Census workers who would normally attend community and special events.

Currently, South Carolina is ranked 40th in its response ranking. South Carolina has a 57.2% response rate, Beaufort County’s response rate is 47.3% and Bluffton’s response rate is 62.4% according to early August figures by the U.S. Census.

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