Local officials hope to change the way the national government will count deployed soldiers in the upcoming 2010 Census.
Soldiers are counted as residents of their "state of record" rather than counted as residents of the local area in which they are living at the time they deploy, confirmed Lauren Lewis, Partnership Specialist. Therefore, an estimated 14,000 soldiers assigned to Fort Stewart and who live in Hinesville and surrounding communities will not now be counted as part of the local population when they deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan.
"This is how it is done nationwide," Lewis explained. She said military personnel who will be serving overseas when the Census is taken will be added to their home states’ population figures.
Lewis oversees a 10-county area that includes Bryan, Liberty, Effingham, Tattnall, Glynn, Evans, Chatham, Long, McIntosh and Toombs counties.
Officials from Liberty County, Hinesville and other local cities have signed and sent a letter to U.S. Rep.
Jack Kingston and U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson requesting their support in changing the way the Census currently counts active duty service members. Community leaders continue to stress the impact population has in determining the amount of money the federal government distributes to states, and states, in turn, apportions to counties and cities.
Jeff Ricketson, director of the Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership, said a dialogue began last week at a partnership meeting about the Census and how deployed military members are counted. Ricketson said local leaders are concerned their cities and counties – particularly Hinesville and Liberty County – will be financially penalized over a 10-year period based on the Census count.
The letter, he said, was sent to Georgia’s Congressional Delegation. The partnership includes the counties of Liberty, Bryan, Long and Tattnall, and the cities located in these counties.
-Read more in the Bryan County News.