That meant less federal funding for local city and county governments, schools, hospitals and agencies charged with helping the less fortunate.
And that meant local taxpayers made up the difference for the past nine years.
To ensure Bee County agencies get their fair share of state and federal funding in the future, Bee County commissioners voted Monday to create a committee to help ensure an accurate Census count in 2010.
The county judge and each of the four commissioners will appoint two representatives to the Complete Count Census Committee. The group will “spread the word” about the upcoming Census at community events, schools, churches and anywhere else they can share the message.
“The Census is extremely important because it is a snapshot of our country and who we are,” said Evangelina Chapa, a partnership specialist with the Dallas Regional Census Center.
She said the data collected during the decadal Census count stays with the cities and counties for 10 years, or until the next Census is completed.
The Census “enables the federal government to be able to help communities through grants,” she explained.
She said the federal government handed out more than $300 billion a year since the 2000 Census was completed — or more than $3 trillion in the nine-year period.
“And in order for our communities to get a fair share of that federal money for our schools, for our health care and the different agencies that make up the community, then we need to make sure we have an accurate (Census) count,” she told commissioners during their regularly monthly meeting on Monday.
The Census also helps determine the number of representatives each congressional district has in the House of Representatives, and helps determine if congressional districts need to be redrawn.
Chapa said Census employees will visit Bee County twice in 2010, once to determine if addresses are still valid — to see if a home is still standing or even occupied, and again to undertake the count.
This year Bee County residents will be asked to fill out a short form of 10 “simple” questions, Chapa said.
“For the first time ever we will have a short form, we will not have a long form,” she said.
The 10 questions include name, date of birth, gender, race, etc.
Chapa said only 54 percent of Bee County residents were counted in the 2000 Census. However, more Bee County residents were counted in the 2000 Census than in the 1990 Census, she noted.
She said Bee County’s population has grown slightly since the 2000 Census. She knows that because Census employees visit communities every year to update their count and they counted more people in Bee County in 2006 than in 2000, she explained.