Spending 10 minutes to complete a census form brings in thousands of dollars for local schools, roads, food assistance programs, emergency services and more.

Population counts from the census determine federal funding and the number of  governmental representatives an area receives. Businesses also use that information to pick locations, according to the U.S. Census Bureau website.

According to ICountNM, the website of the Statewide Complete Count Commission, for every New Mexican not counted in the census, the state loses $37,450 over the next 10 years.

Rio Rancho would lose more than $27.7 million in 10 years if just 1 percent of the city’s population went uncounted, according to the website. Sandoval County would lose close to $42.4 million under the same circumstances.

“I want to remind people how important it is that they participate in the census, because of the resources it inevitably brings to the city,” said Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull, adding that the community would be underfunded if people didn’t return their census forms. “Get out and be counted.”

Census Day is April 1. So, people should fill out their census forms based on who lives in their home on that day.

This year for the first time, people can respond to the census online or via phone, as well as by mail or talking to a census-taker in person.

According to the Census Bureau website, as of Thursday, 32.6 percent of people in Rio Rancho and 27.3 percent of people in Sandoval County had completed their census forms. Nationally, 30.2 percent of residents had participated, according to the website.

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Census Bureau moved back its schedule for collecting data. Now, people can respond to the census online or via phone until the counting time ends Aug. 14.

Ninety-five percent of U.S. households will get an invitation to participate, including instructions for using the online form and a phone number to call for help, in the mail, according to the Census Bureau. Census-takers will hand-deliver paper questionnaires in places where most residents don’t get mail at home, covering almost 5 percent of households, and will ask for responses in person from a little more than 1 percent of households in remote areas, according to the website.

They’ll also count homeless people, people in group quarters like dorms and people living in transitory quarters like RV parks this spring. According to the bureau website, from May 28 through Aug. 14, census-takers will visit households that haven’t responded to obtain information.

“Completing your census is easily done online in just a few minutes, and it is so important to assure our community receives the optimum funding for our population,” said Sandoval County Commission Chairman Dave Heil in an email. “The numbers are used to determine the distribution of state and federal funding that helps with roads, assistance for seniors, schools, 911 emergency systems and much more. Please take a few minutes to complete your census input.”

The census form asks for basic information about people living in a household and should take 10 minutes or less to complete. It does not contain questions about finances, education, immigration status or personal information such as Social Security numbers, although it does ask for birthdates.

The Census Bureau conducts separate economic and demographic surveys.

By law, the Census Bureau must keep information submitted confidential and release it only as statistics, not in a way in which individuals can be identified.

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