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Under-counting in the 2010 census may have cost Walker County as much as $270 million.

U.S. Census Bureau officials reported that under-counting has cost the county $30 million annually since 2010’s survey, said Robert Wardlaw, county economic development director. Based on population, this money flows into schools, housing programs, low-income heating assistance, transit programs, cities, the county and various other programs and government agencies.

“We want to ensure that Walker County receives our full allocation of funding,” Wardlaw said, “so it is important that all Walker County residents are counted.”

The Walker County Complete Count Committee, using the slogan Walker Counts 2020, will strive to make the count next year as accurate as possible and educate residents about the process to complete the 10-question survey online.

Georgia communities currently receive more than $2,300 per person annually in federal funds.

In addition to allocation of federal and state resources, census data is also used to apportion congressional districts.

“Not only is it our civic duty to participate, but this funding is critical for attracting new businesses; forecasting future transportation needs; creating maps for speeding up emergency services; designing facilities for people with disabilities, children and the elderly; and planning for public transit and school construction, as well as determining areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans,” Wardlaw said.

According to the 2010 census, 68,756 people lived in the county.

Seventy-six percent of Walker residents participated in that census, meaning one-quarter of the questionnaires were not returned.

Wardlaw said residents should receive a postcard in mid-March explaining how to complete the online form.

Catherine Edgemon is assistant editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and the Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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