LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Questions and concerns are being raised Tuesday by several area mayors about the population count from the 2020 US Census Bureau. Those numbers help determine how many federal dollars communities receive, money that is often the lifeblood for those communities.

The US Census data is a key factor in the federal grant equation and the mayors 28/22 News spoke with say they believe their populations have been undercounted by the Census Bureau.

“So we’re losing grant money and let me be clear, it’s not getting given back to any of us,” said Pittston Mayor Mike Lombardo.

Mayor Lombardo is sounding the alarm about the population count from the 2020 census.

“My concern is pretty straightforward. I mean, we see the growth we have in the city and when we look at those numbers, we see some of the trends are reflected the right way, but I don’t think the overall numbers in the city is accurate,” Mayor Lombardo explained.

Lomabado says the census shows Pittston losing about 200 people in population From nearly 7,800 residents in 2010 to about 7,600 in 2020 which he says is not what the reality is and he blames the count process, the overall system used by the census bureau.

“I really think that model has not evolved. It’s still what I would call ‘low-jack.’ It’s old school knocking on doors in a post-pandemic world into affected, and this count was occurring in that whole process, as you know, and I just think there’s got to be a better way to utilize technology.” Lombardo continued.

Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown echoes Lombardo’s comments. The diamond cities population, according to the 2020 census, increased from about 41,500 to 44,300 from 2010.

“I know for a fact that our population has grown to at least 50,000, if not more. I can tell that by the amount of garbage, recyclables, that we are having over last three and a half years, I’ve seen a large increase,” Mayor Brown stated.

Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat says the census shows they increased in population from 24,000 to 29,000, but he thinks it’s more like 36,000 residents. He believes many people are afraid to take part in the census.

“People do get scared when they are counted and asked the questions that they are asked. But that information is sworn not to be used for any other purpose except for funding the municipalities,” said Mayor Cusat.

Congressman Dan Meuser tells the I-Team that the overall census process must be looked at.

“The census should be shortened and ask fewer personal questions to encourage greater participation across the country. Taking these steps will help ensure all communities are eligible for the appropriate funding they deserve,” Meuser added.

The I-Team reached out to the US Census Bureau for comment on this story and we received an email that led us to a Census Bureau website explaining the process.

28/22 News did not receive a direct response to the concerns expressed by the mayors we spoke with.