The new census population numbers for Bloomfield just don’t add up.
Mayor Raymond McCarthy believes the 2010 census underestimated Bloomfield’s population, which could ultimately deny the township from applying for additional federal and state grants. On Monday, he said the township will look into challenging the findings.
“No question about that,” said the mayor about disputing the numbers. “We don’t believe – under any – that the census number that came out ... is correct."
The 2010 census data found that Bloomfield has a current population of 47,315. The new figures were a slight decrease from the 2000 census, which found the population to be 47,683.
McCarthy pointed to the recent explosion in the school population – more than 500 students – and overcrowding in the schools as an example that Bloomfield is growing, not shrinking.
“If there are 500 to 700 kids [new in the schools], are they all by themselves?” asked McCarthy.
The mayor also questioned whether the census workers were able to actually get in contact with all the residents living in town.
“We want to get a clear, precise counting of all the residents in town," said McCarthy. “... There are sections of town where there are apartments where people don’t answer the door. So you don’t know."
The ultimate goal of the challenge is for the township's population reach the 50,000 mark, said McCarthy. If Bloomfield reaches that number, it will be reclassified as a city rather than a township. That designation would allow Bloomfield to pursue additional state and federal grants – such as for housing, streets and parks.
Becoming classified as a city, said the mayor, “opens up a lot of doors for us. And there is other ways we can get funding from other places.”
On Wednesday, Municipal Clerk Louise Palagano said the township is still trying to figure out how to go about challenging the numbers.
The final deadline for Bloomfield to submit its challenge to the Census Bureau is June 1.
If Bloomfield decides to dispute the numbers, it will join seven other municipalities in New Jersey to do so. Of the seven that have challenged their census figures, four have been changed – Cumberland County, Jersey City, Voorhees Township, and Weehawken Township.
A presentation will be given at the council meeting on Jan. 28 about how the township will go about challenging the census.