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Posted: Thursday, April 1, 2010 11:00 pm

The Census Bureau says it takes just 10 minutes to complete one of the forms now arriving in mailboxes.

But Virginia Morton said it wasn’t nearly that tough.

“It was so simple I couldn’t believe it,” said Morton, who lives in Ahwatukee Foothills with her husband. “I was disappointed. We opened it, marked it, and put it in the mail the next day.”

Which is exactly what Census officials want.

The once-a-decade count of everyone living in the United States has begun with forms mailed to every address in Ahwatukee Foothills, Arizona and the nation.

The forms ask basic information on age, gender and race and ethnicity of everyone in the home as of April 15.

That information will then be used to reallocate seats in Congress, decide where new hospitals will be built and is even used by companies to help pick new locations to build or relocate a business.

Most importantly for cash-strapped Arizona, accurate population figures are important when it comes to dividing up $400 billion in federal funding used for everything from cops to senior center funding.

“Getting these figures right is really important,” said Tammy Perkins, executive assistant to the Phoenix city manager. She is in charge of the city’s effort to make sure everyone is counted.

That’s because each person counted equals about $4,000 for the city of Phoenix over the next 10 years and more for the state and county.

One common myth is that the personal information could be used by law enforcement or other agencies.

Not true, said Mel Hannah of Ahwatukee Foothills, who is helping the city ensure a 100 percent response to the questionnaires.

“It is not shared with any other federal department or law enforcement. It’s only used for statistic gathering purposes,” Hannah said.

Anyone with questions on the Census form can contact the Census 2010 hotline at (866) 872-6868.

 

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