Highland County commissioners met in executive session twice concerning matters of economic development Wednesday, and then took part in a presentation on the upcoming 2020 census.
Commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton met with Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin and later with Innergex representative David Kline in twin economic development meetings.
Saying that the once-a-decade census is crucial to Highland County in terms of representation and funding, U.S. Census Partnership Specialist Samuel Knight gave commissioners an in-depth briefing on ways that local government leaders “can get the word out.”
“For the 24th time in our nation’s history, the U.S. government will be conducting the largest peacetime undertaking of a decennial census,” he said. “Our job is to deliver a snapshot of what the country looks like on April 1, 2020, then we’ll deliver those results to the president on December 31 and we’ll get the apportionment counts back in the first quarter of 2021.”
He said the goal is to count everybody once and only once, and in the right place, which he defined as where they were on April 1, 2020 or where they spend the majority of their time, an area of concern due to those who may work and spend most of the week in a certain location, but drive to another area to their home.
Knight indicated that for the purposes of the census, people will be counted in the area where they spent the most time, which would be their work location.
He said that the census bureau plans for people to respond in three ways, the first being the first-ever use of the internet, which will take approximately 10 minutes, in addition to the previous methods of replying by mail or over the phone.
Insuring a timely and accurate census is critically important to the county, state and nation, Knight said, citing four major uses of the collected information:
• Apportionment in the U.S. House of Representatives, which will be available in early 2021. He said if for some reason there is an undercount in the census, it can detrimentally affect Ohio’s representation in Congress.
• Redistricting on the state level to reflect population changes. An inaccurate population count could result in the borders of districts being drawn in the wrong locations in Highland County, he said, which would lead to misrepresentation and misallocation of funding.
• Future planning purposes. That would involve police and fire protection, hospitals, schools and commercial/business interests.
• Plans for future funding, which he said involves at least 300 federal programs that make decisions on local and state funding based solely on census data.
“The consequences of undercounting the population, or not getting an accurate count, can be drastic,” he said. “They will reverberate in our area until the next census is taken in 2030.”
In other matters before commissioners Wednesday, two quotes were accepted by motion and vote concerning repairs of ceramic tiles in the showers and cells of the Highland County Justice Center from Priest Millwright Services, LLC, and the other for repairs and electronic updates on a sign in front of the Hi-Tech Center.
Four resolutions of line-item budget transfers were approved, in addition to a trio of contracts relating to the county engineer and sheriff’s office, and Highland County Department of Jobs and Family Services.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.