Claiming the 2010 Census undercounted Hempstead Village, Mayor Wayne Hall vowed Tuesday to file a formal challenge.
"The numbers that we got don't add up," Hall said.
The new census counted 53,891 people in Hempstead, a 4.7 percent decrease from the original 2000 tally of 56,554. The U.S. Census Bureau recently repeated that 2000 number when it released the 2010 data.
That was a mistake. It turns out the 2000 population had been revised downward by the bureau, to 53,127. That means the village actually grew slightly over the decade -- by 1.4 percent -- and no longer faces a potential loss of federal funding.
Seth Forman, chief planner for the Long Island Regional Planning Council, said the bureau reduced the 2000 count after discovering that Hofstra University's dorms had been erroneously placed in Hempstead instead of East Garden City.
"I still think there's more than 53,000 people in the village of Hempstead," Hall said after learning of the revised 2000 tally. "It doesn't deter my determination to look into the census numbers."
Forman said the mayor faces a daunting task in convincing the bureau to change the numbers. The agency has tough requirements for proving inaccuracies in either locality boundaries or the number or placement of housing units and institutions.
The bureau will start considering challenges on June 1, a process that will last two years.
The planning council coordinated a successful challenge of 2007 population estimates. But Forman said it's more difficult to challenge the decennial census "because that's a household survey ... It's less likely you can prove there are whole tracts of housing units that are not counted."
Though he also believes Hempstead Village was undercounted, the head of the local Hispanic Civic Association has been more focused on learning from the census.
"It's really, really important for us to understand those demographics," said executive director George Siberón.
For instance, data showing age distribution or income levels in a particular area could help planners decide whether more day cares or rental housing is needed, he said.
The bureau recently held a workshop in Hempstead, guiding about a dozen people from village government, local school boards and civic groups through the agency's website, census.gov.
It's part of a "concerted effort" by regional bureau officials to engage with local groups by conducting workshops on how to access census data and related information, such as the American Community Survey.
"We're going back to the communities, back to our partners," said Veronica Lavarro, a spokeswoman for the bureau's New York Regional Office in Manhattan. "We're urging them to use the resources to access the data."