Bastrop County is among a slew of fast-growing rural counties in Central Texas struggling to make sure their residents are counted accurately during this year’s census, set to begin this spring.
Every 10 years, per the U.S. Constitution, every person living in the U.S. has to be counted. The count helps the federal government decide how much money to give each state for various federal programs. It also determines how many seats individual states get in Congress.
Making sure the count is accurate is a big undertaking for any city or county. But it’s especially difficult for local governments that don’t have that many resources to begin with.
“We will work with what we’ve got,” Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape says.
Unlike large swaths of rural America that have seen their populations plummet in the past few decades, Bastrop County has been steadily growing. And this rural county directly east of Austin is likely to keep growing.
“As far as rural counties go, Bastrop is right at the head of the list on fast growing,” Pape says. “And the projections are these: In the next 10 years, we are projected to grow another 25% or so. In the next 50 years, we are projected to grow about 400%. Because Austin is pretty much filled up.”