Like other county governments across the state and nation, Ellis County is gearing up for the 2020 Census — and is seeking volunteers to serve on its Complete Count Committee.

County Judge Todd Little said the Complete Count Committee will be made up of 20 people — 10 citizens recommended by the Commissioners’ Court, two from each precinct plus the judge, and another 10 at-large members who are involved in the community.

Little said the county has applied for, and received, a $6,000 grant from the United Way of West Ellis County for the committee.

“The goal would be for the committee would be to meet four to six times over the year and kind of develop a plan,” Little said at last Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting. “The United Way is interested in helping, so they’re in the process of creating a website that will be a functional tool to have citizens go and find information about the census.”

Little said he has been told by census officials that, based on per-head population, every citizen that is counted in Ellis County translates to about $1,500 in grants from state, federal or non-profit organizations.

“If we’re at say 180,000 and we go to 200,000, that’s substantial money on those 20,000 new people that comes back to us in the form of grants,” Little said. “As our population increases, our representation goes up accordingly.”

Little mentioned his two suggestions for the committee: George Valdez, the former postmaster in Waxahachie; and Kasey Cheshier, the executive director of the United Way of West Ellis County. These two, and the other commissioners’ nominations, will be considered at the Dec. 30 Commissioners’ Court meeting.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Randy Stinson said the census counts not only American citizens but also undocumented immigrants, and that an outreach is needed to the Hispanic community to be counted. The U.S. Census Bureau is forbidden by law from sharing its information with immigration officials. Stinson said of the two committee members he’ll recommend, one of them will be Hispanic.

“There’s an un-trust factor there,” Stinson said. “But every one that doesn’t sign up, it costs our county, it costs our hospitals, it costs all of us money.”

Workers wanted

In addition to the Complete Count Committee is the separate task of finding people to work for the U.S. Census Bureau.

Joe Joffre, an Ellis County resident and a representative of the bureau, said the bureau is looking to recruit people in the area to work and help take the census in order to get an accurate count. “The better count we get, the more money you get,” Joffre told commissioners.

Joffre said the Census Bureau needs about 500 additional workers in Ellis County on top of the 800 who’ve already been hired. The bureau is paying between $16 and $21 per hour for recruiters, address canvassers, clerks and other positions, and veterans will receive preference on all jobs. The census begins on April 1.

“It’s a good job,” Joffre said. “This person who works at his job can work 10 hours a week, or they can work 40 hours a week. They can work on their own. It’s anybody who has a few hours a week to work. If you drive your own car, which most people would, you’ll get 58 cents per mile.

“It’s something we need to do to get an accurate count. That’s mainly what we’re here for.”

Joffre said interested people can apply at 2020census.gov .