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Missouri's federal funding at risk in 2010 census

Friday, March 26, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Francisco Forbes, 73, runs a census booth at Memorial Union at MU. Forbes, a partnership assistant, raises public awareness for the census. On April 1, Forbes will become a census enumerator, meaning he will go out and count people in neighborhoods, home shelters or any other location. “We will make every effort for people to work in local areas where they live,” he said.

By the numbers

  • $400 billion: Amount government will distribute to states based off census numbers.
  • $8 billion: Amount Missouri received in federal funding in 2008 based off census numbers
  • $1 billion: Amount Missouri taxpayers would save if 100 percent of citizens mailed back their forms.
  • $130,000: Amount Missouri would lose over the next 10 years for every person not counted.
  • $1,400: Amount Columbia would lose every year for every resident not counted.


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COLUMBIA — For every person missed in the 2010 Census, Missouri stands to lose at least $130,000 over the next 10 years, and Columbia loses about $1,400 per year for every resident who is not counted.

So far, the response rate in both Boone County and Missouri is better than the national average.

Since forms were mailed in early March, Boone County has seen a 29 percent return. Missouri reported a 31 percent response., The national return rate is 20 percent, according to the Missouri Census Office.

"We need everyone to participate in the census, so there is solid data to distribute money where it is needed," said Dennis Johnson, U.S. Census regional director for Kansas City.

In 2008, census-based funding added $8 billion to state revenue, according to a Brookings Institution study.

Johnson said census numbers are critical to several services with government funding: education, transportation, senior services, job training, hospitals, bridge and road repair, emergency response and child care.

The numbers also help determine where new schools need to be built and where more school lunches and English as a Second Language programs are needed.

It funds Title 1 programs that focus on improving academic achievement for the disadvantaged and Title 2 funding for teacher and principal training. There are 10 Title 1 schools in Columbia dependent on this funding.

"Once the numbers come out, there will have to be some big bold discussions as far as schools are concerned," Johnson said.

The Department of Planning and Development in Columbia receives money for housing programs, emergency repair and civic improvements, said Thomas Lata, the community development coordinator.

Funds are used for not-for-profit programs such as those that build ramps for people with disabilities and repair homes for the elderly. Without the funds, Lata said, these programs would not be possible.

While many of these programs benefit lower-income residents, Lata said census numbers impact programs that are important to all citizens, such as transportation.

For the first time in its history, Columbia hit the 100,000 population mark this past decade.  Because of the population growth, traffic and congestion are future realities, said Jorma Duran, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

The census will provide the department with information on how to assist the high-growth areas, Duran said. Without this knowledge, MoDOT would not be able to determine where resources are needed.

"Our job is to make sure roads and bridges are safe and secure, especially for areas with more people," he said.


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