ROCHELLE – During hectic times like the country is currently facing, the City of Rochelle is reminding its residents of the importance of responding to the United States Census.
With the entire state of Illinois practicing social distancing and many individuals either out of work or working from home, it is very easy to forget things like responding to the Census. But it is very important to the city because every response is worth approximately $1,800 in federal funding per year for the next 10 years for Ogle County.
Invitations for residents to self-respond are currently being sent out and should arrive between March 13-20, no later than April 1. Once received, people can respond online, over the phone, or request a paper copy to be mailed to their address.
The invitations to respond are printed in English on one side and Spanish on the other. For anybody who needs help responding to their Census, they can call the City of Rochelle at 815-562-6161.
“We can help people do it online and I have already helped several people,” said Sue Messer, city clerk and assistant to the city manager. “They call in, we go to the website and they give us their identifier number located on their form. Then we ask them the questions and enter in the responses as they tell them to us.”
On average, it takes no more than 10 minutes to respond to the census, but it has a big effect on how funds are distributed. The city would like everyone to know that their responses and information is protected by federal law from being given to any other government agency or police station.
Since counting began a week and a half ago, 29.9 percent of Ogle County has responded to the Census, which is good when compared to the national average of 19.2 percent. While this is a good start, the city is working with business and organizations to do everything they can to remind residents to respond.
“Everything people dealing with competes for everyone’s attention, compared to the Census,” said Messer. “We have reached out to the Rochelle Chamber of Commerce and some of their businesses are putting up posters, graphics and putting reminders on the TV. We will just have to find different ways to connect with people.”
For people who do not respond in a timely manner, Census takers will begin going door to door, and paper Census copies will be mailed out as well. Due to coronavirus concerns, Census takers will be going to doors between May 7 and Aug. 14. Census takers were originally planned to begin knocking on doors on April 9.
The City of Rochelle would like to remind their residents that Census takers should not be arriving at doors until May 7 and to be careful of any possible scams. All Census takers will have a unique identification badge they are required to display.
“Unfortunately, we are already hearing that there are scams as far as far as Census takers being out there,” said Messer. “If people have any concerns about someone in the neighborhood or something that doesn’t look right, call Rochelle Police Department and they can check on it.”