Mayor John Stromberg is encouraging Ashland residents to fill out their 2010 census questionnaires to help the city get its fair share of more than $400 billion in state and federal funding that is divvied up each year based on census data.

Mayor John Stromberg is encouraging Ashland residents to fill out their 2010 census questionnaires to help the city get its fair share of more than $400 billion in state and federal funding that is divvied up each year based on census data.

Stromberg signed a proclamation this week encouraging residents to participate in the census.

Postcards will begin arriving in residents' mailboxes during the first week of March to alert them that census questionnaires are on the way. The questionnaires — which this year have only 10 questions — will show up in mailboxes in mid-March. They need to be mailed back by April 1, said Noelia Hernandez, a U.S. Census Bureau partnership specialist.

People who don't return their questionnaires will get another questionnaire. If they still don't respond, a census worker will come knocking on the door, Hernandez said.

"That is the operation that costs us as taxpayers the most money," she said.

Another good reason to mail back the questionnaire on time is that a resident will then know that anyone showing up at the door claiming to be a census worker is likely to be a con artist, Hernandez said.

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger has issued a warning about scam artists posing as census workers.

Real census workers will ask only for information such as a person's name, age, gender, ethnicity, birth date, marital status and employment status. The U.S. Census Bureau will not contact people via e-mail, he said.

Con artists may ask for "donations" or seek data such as personal financial information and Social Security numbers, Kroger said.

In addition to protecting themselves from scams, Ashlanders and other Oregonians who fill out census questionnaires help themselves and their communities in a variety of other ways, according to city of Ashland officials.

Census information is used to guide decisions concerning schools, roads and public transportation, hospitals, business growth and housing. The data also determines how many seats Oregon will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and affects redistricting for voting districts, city officials said.

The U.S. Constitution calls for the counting of residents every 10 years.

For more information about the 2010 census, visit http://2010.census.gov/2010census/.

For more information on identifying a legitimate census worker, avoiding census scams and reporting suspected scams, visit www.johnkroger.com/releases/

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.