Sixty-seven is a magic number for one community in the Baton Rouge region.
The village of French Settlement is close to reaching a town designation, which could see them jump from a three-alderman municipality to five. The most recent census data shows the village has 1,133 of the 1,200 it would need to make the jump.
Every 10 years, the United States conducts a census: 2020 is one of those years.
French Settlement Mayor Rhonda Lobell said she hasn’t looked closely into the changes that a town status would bring, but increased representation at the board of aldermen would be one.
French Settlement has a census response rate of 52.2%.
Of course, this village isn’t the only community urging its residents to fill out the census forms.
“Population data from the census is used to determine how to distribute monies in federal funding for schools, roads, bridges and more," Zachary Mayor David Amrhein said. "Businesses use census population figures to decide where to open, close or expand stores.”
The census also determines each state’s representation in Congress and number of electoral votes for president.
It's not too late to fill out the forms, depiste some confusion about the April 1 date.
At Census2020.gov, the government notes that April 1 is the reference date, not the deadline. People can still respond by internet, phone or mail.
Beginning in August through Oct. 31, census takers will interview people who have not responded, trying to make sure everyone is counted. By December, those numbers will be delivered to the president and to Congress.
Amrhein’s city has responded well: 67.8% of Zachary residents had responded to the census by July 13.
“I feel that our citizens are proud of our city, and they realized the importance of responding to the census, which will shape resources for our children and community over the next decade," the mayor said.
Census response rates vary widely in the region. As of July 13, the rate was 56.2% for Louisiana and 62.1% nationwide.
Parish rates in the region are close to the state mark, with notable exceptions of the Felicianas — East Feliciana is at 48.5% and West Feliciana at 41% — and Ascension Parish at 62.1%. In East Baton Rouge, with 59.3% responding, the cities other than Baton Rouge have had strong response. Baton Rouge itself is at 54.5%.
While French Settlement awaits to see if they have grown, its parish school system doesn’t expect much change from the census. The Livingston Parish School Board won’t see any funding-related impacts from census results, though the last census changed representation on the school board. The population is divided evenly to make the nine elected board districts, but the bulk of funding comes from student enrollment rather than community population.
To report your household, visit Census2020.gov, fill out the mailed form you may have received earlier or, as the City of Baker recently reminded its residents, call (844) 330-2020 or any of the numbers associated with specific languages. For example, Spanish speakers can call (844) 468-2020, Vietnamese (844) 461-2020, and French (844) 494-2020. Go online to see other language phone numbers.
To help people respond, the Census Bureau offers web pages and guides in 59 non-English languages, including American Sign Language, as well as guides in Braille and large print.
The Ascension Parish Library recently reminded residents that it is helping with online access for people needing to respond to the census. It is participating in Count on Libraries: 2020 Census with special Census Corners at the Gonzales and Donaldsonville branches. These have areas designated for census information and with a laptop for census completion.
All library systems in the Baton Rouge area can help answer questions or provide internet access for completing the census. However, some branches have had to close temporarily or have altered hours because of the coronavirus, so call to verify which branch is open.
Visit Census2020.gov for more information, including response rates, programs that are affected by the numbers, why the census matters, and much more.
Staff writers Emma Kennedy and Darlene Denstorff contributed to this story.