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Halifax County Board of Commissioners Chairman Vernon Bryant is encouraging residents to complete the 2020 Census by the deadline of October 31.

There are several factors at play for completing the 10-year count, he said in an interview this week.

“The fast-approaching October 31st deadline is North Carolina’s opportunity to ensure that every resident of our state is counted and that North Carolina brings back its fair share of federal funding dollars.”

 The census is required by the United States Constitution and impacts all residents of the state — in both urban and rural communities, big cities and small towns from Murphy to Manteo, Bryant said.

Currently, Bryant said Halifax County is low in the count as far as the census being completed. “Why the census counts is it provides educational funding, funding for public safety, transportation for roads, community development, local infrastructure and housing assistance. It’s real important that you complete the census and real important that when completing the census people should remember to report on everybody in the household — mamma, daddy, sister, brother, nephew, cousin, boyfriend, girlfriend. If you fail to do that your numbers won’t be accurate.”

The census is confidential, Bryant said, and is protected by law.

It’s not immediately clear what Halifax County could stand to gain from the census and county Planning Director Chris Rountree, the census contact point, was not available for comment today. 

County Manager Tony Brown said today it is important to fill out the form, which can be done online, by email or phone. “In the last 20 years we’ve lost probably 5,000 in population. The latest projection from the state is a (population of) a little more than 50,000. We receive funding from both state and federal agencies that are based on population. That’s why we want to have everyone counted so we can have an accurate funding amount. It could be a big difference between our previous population amounts.”

Bryant said the census can help determine the size of the state’s representation in Congress. “Representatives serve by population. Right now the representation (in Halifax County) is in G.K. Butterfield’s district. That may remain or it may not remain, but the thing about it is we will have more representation in North Carolina, one more representative which would help us a lot in the U.S. Congress.”

The census determines how federal programs will distribute more than $600 billion to states and “it will bring tax dollars back to our North Carolina communities — more than $16 billion per year in federal funding or approximately $1,623 per person per year to our state,” Bryant said, referring to a The George Washington University report titled Counting for Dollars 2020.

Census data will support planning and services in communities for the next 10 years as local businesses and governments use the data to serve the needs of the population. “The data supports critical infrastructure and planning for roads, housing and schools as well as other economic and social programs and services.”

Bryant said census data acts as a starting point for the state demographer’s annual population estimates which are used to determine tax revenues with local governments. “The bottom line is numbers matter. A complete count matters for North Carolina and its residents. This is your chance to have a voice in shaping your and our community’s future to help North Carolina bring back its share of federal dollars and to join together to make North Carolina count.”