The time to fill out U.S. Census 2020 forms is coming up. (Images courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau) By MADDY VITALEThe official U.S. Census takes place only once every 10 years and can be a vital tool to assess needs in a community, programs and growth, and it is coming up this spring.Ocean City is not going to be left out, officials said.The community created a committee, made up of representatives from the city, schools, churches and businesses, to work together to create awareness about the importance of everybody being counted.“With Ocean City’s transient population, it’s especially vital for everybody to participate, so we can take full advantage of all the funding and service opportunities available to us. It’s easy to do,” explained Doug Bergen, a census committee member and also the city’s public information officer.He continued, “Starting in mid-March, brief surveys will be available online. People also can respond by phone or mail.”Key information about the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 census is provided in a fact sheet at www.2020census.gov.Perhaps the one that affects U.S. residents the most is the fact that $675 billion in federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on census data.That money is spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs.In addition, residents use census data to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality of life and consumer advocacy, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.This information is part of a U.S. Census Bureau presentation on the 2020 census.Lori S. Carlin, of the U.S. Census Bureau, is a partnership specialist for Atlantic and Cape May counties.Carlin said she is pleased to be working with Ocean City and other Cape May County communities that are showing a commitment to promoting the 2020 Census.She emphasized the importance of filling out census forms.“It’s safe, secure and important,” she said Wednesday of the forms.There are many ways a person can do their civic duty.“Snowbirds need to know from their hometowns, like Ocean City, that they can fill out the nine questions at www.2020census.gov online or request a paper questionnaire,” Carlin pointed out. “If they don’t do either, then a census taker will begin knocking on their door in May.”Carlin explained how important census results are to communities.“Simply, the census is about power and money all relating to a person’s commitment to investing in their community by a once a decade population count only,” she said.Census Day is April 1, but the census questionnaire will be available online on March 12, she said. It’s against the law for the Census Bureau to publicly release a person’s responses.“There are over 130 difference surveys that the census conducts year after year. The 2020 Census is coming,” Carlin said. “Education will hopefully dismiss confusion and lack of trust.”For more information, visit www.2020census.gov. Any members of the public who have concerns or wish to report a scam may visit [email protected] are three ways to complete the 2020 census forms, on paper, online or by phone.