November 27, 2021

County urges more response to US Census

Only 60% of households answered so far, officials say

Only 60% of Cortland County’s households have responded to the U.S. Census, so county officials are urging people to complete the survey before the new October deadline — particularly in its southern portions, where internet access is more difficult.

“I mean, obviously, the goal is 100%,” Dan Dineen, the director of the county Planning Department, said during an Agriculture, Planning and Environment Committee meeting Thursday. “The higher the response rate, the less there is a need for the enumerators to go out door to door and get that information. We’re hoping to get that at least 75% to 85% before the enumerators have to go out.”

The last time the county did the census, in 2010, only 77% of households responded, Dineen said.

“Did we ever get 100%?” asked Legislator George Wagner (RMarathon, Lapeer).

“No,” Dineen replied.

But people have a few months longer to get their surveys in this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Originally, individual responses need to be completed by July 31; now people have until October.

But even with the extended deadline, Dineen said problems remain.

“What makes it a little more difficult this time is the Census Bureau is no longer sending out questionnaires, it all has to be done online,” he said. “We’ve been noticing particularly in some of our rural towns the response rate has been quite low.”

Clerk of the Legislature Eric Mulvihill said the southern end of the county is seeing fewer responses.

However, he said getting more responses is important for the county and its residents.

“Not only does it dictate representation at the federal level, it also governs our state aid and grants and dollars coming back to this community, so it is important,” he said.