Census Ads to Encourage Compliance

Within the next week, TV commercials about the 2010 census will be shown to encourage people to fill out their forms and mail them back. April 1 is 'Census Day'.

Residents are asked to return their forms, if they haven't already done so.

Although forms can be turned in after that, local officials say the sooner they are returned, the better.

Meridian Community Development Director Don Farrar says it's important now more than ever that everyone living in Meridian be counted.

"Each census was very important, but this one is especially important because of the nation's economic conditions and our local economic condition," Farrar said.

According to Farrar, this year's census count will determine how $400 billion will be distributed to state, local and tribal governments over the next ten years.

"We have over 300,000 people in our trade area. We're very important, west Alabama and east Mississippi," said Farrar. "Our entire trade area is important to the trade, with sales tax and health care, all the things that people look for the city of Meridian to provide. That's why we need an accurate count to be able to receive the funding to provide the services when people come in."

During the previous census counts, the city of Meridian would distribute handout materials and things like door hangers to remind citizens to fill out the forms. This year, the money is not available to do this and that's why anyone with questions or who needs help filling out the form is asked to call the Community Development Office at 601-485-1910.

"It may not seem to affect everyone directly, but it will indirectly," Farrar said.

As of the last census, Meridian's population was almost 40,000 residents. Estimates have since dropped that population to a low of 38,000 2006. The number crept back up after that to about 38,232.

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