The 2020 Census is technically still months away, but Hays County is gearing up to do a better job of making sure every resident is counted.
Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra announced Oct. 9 the formation of the Hays County Complete Count Committee, designed to be an umbrella for similar committees formed by the county’s municipalities as well as Texas State University.
“In an effort to ensure that all of Hays County is accounted for … and using the guidelines provided by the U.S. Census, I, as the highest elected official in Hays County, hereby form the Hays County Complete Count Committee,” Becerra posted on social media.
“Our biggest goal is to give people an opportunity to participate,” he said by phone Oct. 10 from Galveston, where he was attending a conference. “We have many groups interested, some are already forming. We want to make sure we’re not duplicating efforts and that we’re doing things efficiently.”
It’s a bigger task in Hays County than some other places because there are areas of the county that have not always been accurately represented in the Constitutionally-mandated national head count.
“Hays County has been identified as an undercounted, hard-to-count area along the corridor and areas to the east of Interstate 35,” he said.
“The federal government is telling us we have not historically done a good job,” he said, adding that historically, those areas, including Dripping Springs, participated at a rate less than 80 percent.
Becerra said he considers that an “opportunity to unite us as best I can to make sure we have everyone counted.” Undercounts result in fewer federal funds because they are allocated on the basis of the number of residents.
To help get everyone included, he said municipalities and Texas State are in the process of applying for grants. “It’s important for us to synchronize and be on the same page,” he said.
Becerra said the application for a grant from the Hogg Foundation specifically asks if the county judge has formed a Complete Count Committee.
Although he had just posted the notification a day prior, Becerra said he’s already had some meetings and has heard from many people, elected officials and others, who want to be a part of the group. “We have replied to everyone so we can create the first meeting in the very near future.”
The point of the census, he said, is to capture a moment in time. “If you freeze time at this moment, where are you? That’s the goal. We want to help create good paths of communication so people can have clear expectations, clear roadmaps and attainable goals so we can all work together for the greater good.”
The U.S. Census is conducted every 10 years.