Area government officials are stressing the importance of filling out 2020 census forms to help increase per capita federal and state funding.

Cowan City Councilman William Anderson, who is also Franklin County’s solid waste director, approached the County Finance Committee on Nov. 19 about securing funds to advertise to increase awareness about the census.

The committee agreed to chip in $4,000.

Anderson said a goal is to have Franklin County’s larger cities, Winchester and Decherd, contribute $1,500 each with the smaller cities chipping in $1,000.

Anderson said the county had about 70 percent participation in the 2010 Census which meant it didn’t get an ample share of its potential funding.

Ricky Tipps, WCDT radio co-owner, said the county will lose $1,600 in state and federal funding for each person who isn’t counted.

He said that translates into $10 million in lost revenue during the past decade.

Winchester is hosting a meeting on Jan. 7, 2020, at noon at City Hall on approaches to increase participation in the census.

County and city government leaders throughout Franklin County have been invited.

City Administrator Beth Rhoton said it is paramount that the cities and the county do as much as possible to inform the public about how important it is to get census forms filled out.

She said government entities receive state and federal funding based on population, and if a percentage of residents aren’t accounted for, the city won’t receive funding for them.

Anderson updated the Cowan City Council about the census at the Nov. 12 meeting.

He said census workers don’t take down specifics on the individuals they count, but there’s a perception that they will report undocumented residents. He added that they can’t turn in such people according to the law.

Anderson said migrant families with younger children have a tendency not to list them in census material in fear that they might be removed from their homes. He said again that the census is only about population numbers and has nothing to do with reporting undocumented residents.

“There’s a big resistance from the minority community,” Anderson said, referring to gathering census information.

The Cowan Council discussed potentially including information about the census on customers’ water bills to help get word out about the city’s effort to have the most accurate head count possible.