Local officials in Bay County are concerned about the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census in April since people have left the area after the storm.

BAY COUNTY — Local officials in Bay County are concerned about the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census in April since people have left the area after Hurricane Michael and a lower population count could mean less federal funding.

Among those concerned is Springfield Mayor Ralph Hammond, who estimates the town has lost 30 percent of its population.

The ramifications of the 2020 census are “going to last for 10 years,” Hammond said. “We won’t get another census for another 10 years.”

Local officials said people might physically live elsewhere but still work in the area and be rebuilding their homes in the county, meaning they will be counted in whatever area they live in by the time the census comes around.

The local area has the option of redoing the census but that cost comes to the municipalities and county. Local officials said that option is a matter of considering how much it will cost and what the return on it will be.

“It’s all going to end up with how they determine who is where,” Greg Brudnicki, mayor of Panama City, said in reference to how the census count will be done. “We need to know the steps they ended up taking to get the number they got.”

County Commissioner Robert Carroll said local officials have met with census officials to relay concerns. Post-storm workers staying in the area will be counted, Carroll said.

“Every bit of it is critical,” Carroll said.

Tangible effects of revenue not coming in could include street repairs being longer. Hammond said local governments will have to adjust budgets accordingly.

“You might have plans for five police cars,” said Hammond. “With the census down, you may get three.”

Brudnicki said people could have migrated out to the beach area because they’re fighting with their insurance companies or contractors with intentions to return home and Panama City shouldn’t be penalized because a certain amount of people are out of town.

Callaway Mayor Pamn Henderson is also concerned about the upcoming census.

“It’s no secret that Callaway, like other Bay County municipalities, has lost a portion of its population,” Henderson said. “This will have a detrimental impact on Callaway regarding grant funding and other funds that are based on allocations by population. Because of this, Callaway is working on ways to inform Callaway residents of the importance of being counted if they are living in the city.”