Some area residents received their 2010 Census questionnaires in Monday’s mail. Others will receives them Today and Wednesday, but by the end of Wednesday, more than 120 million households in the United States should have received their questionnaires.

Here’s our advice: Fill them out immediately and return them by mail. Although April 1 is the “official” date of the census, there is no need for most of us to wait until that date to complete the questionnaires because the number of people living in our households is not likely to change between now and then.

There are only 10 questions on the 2010 Census questionnaires, making it the shortest since the first census way back in 1790. The questions are not tough ones and do not unduly pry into the private lives of people living in America. The U.S. Census Bureau simply wants to know how many people are living in each state, county and incorporated village, town and city on April 1, 2010, whether they are living in the U.S. legally or not.

Your first response may be to put your census questionnaire aside until you have more time to study, but once that is done, the odds of returning it decline significantly. With only 10 questions, the questionnaire only takes a few seconds to complete. There is no reason to put it off. Do it now and get it over with.

Failure to return your questionnaire is a waste of your tax dollars. Households from which no questionnaires are returned will be visited by a census worker beginning May 1. The Census Bureau says that every 1 percent of residents who return the forms saves taxpayers between $80 million and $90 million by not having to send census takers door-to-door to get the information needed for an accurate census from those households that did not return their forms.

The census results are important. More than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed each year to states and to local communities based on their populations. If many residents of a community are not counted, it loses out on its fair share of the federal pie.

The number of seats each state had in the U.S. House of Representatives is determined by the census. For example, Kentucky lost one House seat as a result of the 1990 census. It was not that the state’s population declined between 1980 and 1990; it is just that the population of other states grew much faster. Inside Kentucky, new boundaries for the 100 seats in the Kentucky House of Representatives and the 38 seats in the Kentucky Senate will be redrawn based on the 2010 census. Within a county or city, lines of school districts, county fiscal courts and some city council or commission members will be redrawn based on the census results.

Fill out your census questionnaire and return it as soon as you get it. By doing so, you will be helping to save the federal government millions of dollars and you will be doing your city, county, your state and the nation a huge favor by doing your small part in making the census as accurate as possible.

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