Q: Why is it important to complete the census form this year?

A: As required by the Constitution, the census count of the population is conducted every 10 years by the U.S. Census Bureau. The results determine congressional representation and federal funding. Each year, money is allocated for hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, housing programs, emergencies and disasters based on information collected by the census. The census data is used as the basis for distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to states, counties and communities.

At this time, Franklin County has the lowest census return rate in Florida at 14.8 percent. You can make a difference in the funding received by the county or cities by completing the census.

You should have received a letter in the mail with directions to complete the online census form. If you did not receive the form by mail with your unique census response code, you can visit the census online and enter your street address without the code by accessing the form at www.my2020census.gov. You can also call 1-844-330-2020. The number for the Spanish speaking person is 1-844-468-2020. Your responses to the 2020 census are safe, secure and protected by federal law. The answers can only be used to produce statistics.

Franklin County relies on state and federal grant funds to do most of the infrastructure and capital improvement projects within the county. Just this year, Franklin County was the recipient of a $2.6 million federal grant through the Community Development Block Grant program to provide permanent housing for 38 families displaced by the Eastpoint Wildfire.

Population data compiled by the census program is the basis for many federal programs, and federal assistance will be more important than ever before as our local economy faces monumental challenges due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Please do your part to be an active participant in the census program and be counted for your community.

If you have any questions or comments about this column, please forward them to: Marcia Johnson, Clerk of the Court, 33 Market Street, Suite 203, Apalachicola, FL 32320 or by email to: mmjohnson@franklinclerk.com. Visit the Clerk’s website at www.franklinclerk.com.