New Braunfels leaders are already preparing for the 2020 Census with the establishment of an inaugural Complete Count Committee (CCC). 

The 2020 Census will be the first to offer residents online options, and at the request of the U.S. Census Bureau, communities throughout the state, including New Braunfels, are preparing to make sure everyone is counted. 

Chaired by Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Michael Meek, the CCC will utilize representatives with local knowledge, influence and resources to educate the community and promote census participation, said Sheri Masterson, city public information officer and a CCC member.

“Our job as appointed by city council is to raise awareness through a local marketing campaign and to get people aware that the census count is going to happen and hopefully raise the participation rates,” Meek said. 

It’s important the city and county have as close to a correct count as possible for several reasons, Masterson said.

“An accurate census helps ensure fair representation at all levels of government,” Masterson said. “(Also) the census directly impacts the federal funding local governments will receive over the next decade. And it also provides the most reliable and complete data for research.”

The New Braunfels CCC was put together after the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Rep. Chip Roy approached city leaders and asked the city to facilitate the formation of a committee, Masterson said.

“The New Braunfels City Council adopted a resolution of support for this initiative on April 8, 2019,” Masterson said. 

The CCC had its first meeting Monday afternoon, a three-hour session during which a Census Bureau representative gave the committee members a binder and training, Meek said. 

“We’ve got some more studying to do — we’re going to meet monthly starting in August through the end of this year and we’ve got to be ready to hit the ground running,” Meek said. 

The Census will go out around the week after the city’s 175th celebration, which Meek said city officials hope to utilize to educate the public about the new means to take the census. 

“We’re going to think about that and see how we can tie in the 175th and use that as an awakening for everybody,” Meek said.

The U.S. Census will have encrypted online and telephone response options for the first time. Community members will receive a letter from the Bureau with a code that allows them to participate via the internet, Masterson said.

“They will also have the option for a telephone or mailed-in response. This technology will make it easier than ever for individuals to complete this very important task,” Masterson said.

The Census is for everyone who resides locally, and the Bureau is required by law to keep information confidential, Masterson said.

“They will never share a respondent’s personal information with any other government agency, which is important to note,” she said. “Results are reported in statistical format only and all records are kept confidential for a minimum of 72 years by law.”

A challenge the CCC has had to overcome is no provisional funding was provided for the formation of these committees, Meek said.

“I’m sure a lot of it is going to be social media, which is very cost effective but we’re going to have to see how to best do this and if there’s some things that cost some money, we’re going to go out and raise some money as well, so we’ll see what happens,” Meek said.

Committee members are: Michael Meek, chair (Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce); Sherman Krause (Comal County); Bonnie Surrat (Comal County Senior Citizens Foundation; Steve Stanford (Comal ISD); Bobby Deike (Community Council of S. Central Texas, Inc.); Kristen Fain (McKenna Foundation); Chuck Huckaby (Ministerial Alliance of New Braunfels); Maria Saenz-Rodriguez (LULAC); Robin Torres (New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung); Rebecca Villarreal, vice chair (New Braunfels ISD); Henry Ford and Cordelia Grant (New Braunfels MLK Association, Inc.); Melissa Krause (New Braunfels Utilities); Mario Obledo Jr. (New Braunfels/San Antonio Food Bank); Sheri Masterson (City of New Braunfels); Jean Drew (City of New Braunfels); and Tyler Hoffmann (City of New Braunfels). 

The New Braunfels committee will next meet in August. For more information about the U.S. Census visit www.census.gov.

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