Imagine there not being enough funding to provide services through programs like WIC, Medicaid or Medicare.
Imagine the road you travel frequently being neglected for 10 years.
The list could go on; but to be brief – Hattiesburg, we need you.
For the next 10 years, funding for our city across education, health care, infrastructure, quality of life enhancements, disaster preparedness and public safety rely on an accurate count. It relies on you.
Amid the pandemic, we’ve continued to push forward with infrastructure improvements, paving, murals and additional quality of life enhancements. But, the one initiative that has suffered the most adverse impact from COVID-19 has been the Census.
In its first year to use online methods for the count, the Census window (March to July) positioned us to be in the running for our most accurate count to date. But, coronavirus swept through our community – putting a hard stop on everything, including the street-level Census campaign we were so excited to begin.
Census workers were also halted from doing door-to-door surveys. Then, the rescheduled end date in October was bumped up to September.
Our administration and City Council have worked through several financial challenges over the course of three years. We’ve produced five audits, regained and maintained our bond rating and chipped away at a multi-million dollar deficit to pass the city’s first structurally balanced General Fund budget in 10 years.
An accurate count can only bolster these efforts to help us continue our trajectory as a premier city in the Gulf South. Without it, I’m afraid we’ll continue to face financial hardships across the board for the next decade.
So, when I say we need you – we really need you.
Many of you have rallied, walked streets, called your neighbors and colleagues to fill out the Census – and it has worked (thank you!). But, we have one more week to do just a little bit more, which is where you come in.
Call a friend, make a post on your social media outlets, send an email to your colleagues – whatever opportunity you have, remind them that Sept. 30 is the very last day to help make Hattiesburg count.
You count, and we all count.
Let’s make sure that Hattiesburg as a whole counts for the next 10 years.
To get started, you can visit hattiesburgcounts.com or call (844) 330-2020 (English) or (844) 468-2020 (Spanish).
Toby Barker has served as mayor of Hattiesburg since 2017.