BROOKSVILLE — Recognizing political and financial benefits, the Hernando County Commission agreed this week to partner with the U.S. Census Bureau to promote and assist with the 2010 census.
During Tuesday's commission meeting, census partnership specialist Leon Armstrong urged the county's participation, citing the importance of a complete count. The number of people tallied helps determine not only the representation of the area in the U.S. House of Representatives, but also how $400 billion in block grants will be distributed nationwide.
"I'd like to develop a partnership with you,'' Armstrong told the commission. "We have to ensure that everyone in Hernando County is counted.''
As an example, Armstrong said that the census tract in downtown Brooksville where the government center is located was one of several in the county that were determined to be "hard to count'' in 2000 because of a poor response in returning census forms.
Because of that, he asked commissioners whether he could set up a questionnaire assistance center in the building. He said all he needed was a table and two chairs, and he would have a census worker who has been trained, fingerprinted and background-checked to staff the table 15 hours a week.
Local residents who had questions about their forms or who had not received a census form could come and talk to the worker. Similar set-ups are planned in other locations across the county that were deemed difficult to count in 2000, he said.
County Administrator David Hamilton agreed to meet with Armstrong to make arrangements and talk about how to work together "so we can go from a hard-to-count county to a counted county,'' Hamilton said.
Commission Chairman John Druzbick asked whether there were still census jobs available.
"Absolutely,'' Armstrong replied. Census positions are temporary, he said, "but it's a job."
Local census officials have said that they plan to fill as many as 1,000 temporary positions in Pasco and Hernando counties, and testing of potential employees is ongoing.