Bebe Andrews, a retired government and economics teacher, is head of the committee. She said the Census Bureau wanted communities to get involved to prepare for the count.
“It involves people across the board, from all walks of life to educate people about the census so we could get an accurate count,” Andrews said.
The committee had representatives on hand from the Utilities Board, the Mayor’s office and the Chamber of Commerce, among others.
The group discussed several ideas over the course of the meeting. One of the ideas involved a mayoral challenge between Sylacauga Mayor Sam Wright, who was on hand, and Talladega Mayor Brian York.
The most popular idea was that the winner, or the mayor who got the highest percentages, gets to throw a pie in the face of the loser at a football game next year.
“A lunch and a pie in the face at the ballgame,” Wright said. “What about two pies in the face, one up there [at a game] and one down here [at a game]?”
Andrews said it was important to get information out about the census because many people do not know everything it affects.
“They think mainly the census is for representation in Congress,” she said. “But $3-4 billion goes back to states and local communities. Organizations like SAFE, the grants they write for money, some of them are based on population. So the more we have, the more we get.”
Andrews said a lot of the people who do not turn in their census forms are generally the ones who could benefit the most from it, through local non-profit grants.
She said the census also counts non-U.S. citizens and that information taken by the Census Bureau can not be released to other agencies for more than 70 years.
Also, she said the census had an effect on city services everyone relied on.
“Title I money for schools, police departments, sometimes fire departments, applying for a new truck or new equipment, the question is going to be how many people is this going to help?” Andrews said. “It affects every person. It affects your local community and how much money comes back to them.”
Census questionnaires will be mailed out to homes in March 2010. Questionnaires must be mailed back by April 1.