Maybe they should call it dollars and census.
After all, the once-a-decade federal census does produce the numbers used for political representation, and that in turn produces the political clout for attracting federal and state funds, local officials say.
How much money are we talking about? In 1988, $38.7 billion was allocated in federal programs based on census information. That's $38,700,000,000 in round numbers.
Bob Hamilton, director of the Topeka district office of the U.S. Census Bureau, said that for every person who isn't counted in the federal census, a community stands to lose $110 in federal aid.
Price Banks, Lawrence-Douglas County planning director, looks at the federal government's per capita spending and sees a potential loss in the thousands of dollars for every person who escapes the census count.
"In 1988, the federal government spent $3,616 per capita," Banks said. "Now a great deal of that spending goes back to states and local communities, largely based on the census count population. We're treating it as if each person we don't count is going to cost this area $3,616 per person per year in this next decade."
So what kind of local count can be expected?
David Guntert, a city-county planner who has been working closely with the Lawrence Complete Count Committee, a local group formed to make sure all of Lawrence gets counted in this year's census, said he's estimating a city population of about 65,000 and a county population of 80,000.
Although Census Day the day that forms were due back to the Census Bureau was Sunday, the government still is accepting completed questionnaires, and the counting will continue for some time.
Counts at group quarters, such as residence halls, sororities and fraternities, will be continuing through April 18.
Any households that haven't received a census form can contact the Census Bureau's toll-free hotline at 1-800-999-1990. In addition, the Census Bureau is using computer tracking to determine which households have not returned questionnaires. Later this month and through May, census-takers will be visiting or calling those households to gather the census data.