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Archive for Wednesday, August 1, 2001

Census shift cuts population

August 1, 2001

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The adjusted numbers, released Tuesday by the secretary of state's office, show the county's population dropped from 99,962 based on Census Bureau figures to 95,531 after the state subtracted college students and military personnel with permanent addresses outside the county.

Under the Kansas Constitution, students and military personnel are supposed to be counted "in the district of their permanent residence," rather then in the towns in which they are stationed or attending classes.

Students and military personnel who consider their permanent homes to be outside the state aren't supposed to be counted at all.

Douglas County's adjustment was second only to that of Riley County -- home of Fort Riley and Kansas State University -- which lost 13,246 people.

The adjusted figures clipped the state's population by about 16,000 people.

Although Douglas County lost a few thousand people in the adjusted figures, it has gained 25,771 people during the past decade.

The ideal House district is 21,378 people, making it likely that Douglas County will gain another legislative district when the Legislature redraws lines next session, said Senate Reapportionment Committee chairman David Adkins, R.-Leawood.

The ideal Senate district is 66,806.

Ten years ago, the county and state adjustments were much larger. About 12,000 people were deleted from the county's Census Bureau total then -- almost three times this year's number.

The decline has a lot to do with how universities and other institutions handled the adjustment, said Mike Brassel, project manager for the secretary of state's office. The office relies on those institutions to distribute questionnaires to students and military personnel.

"Some of the institutions told us early on that one of the problems they were having distributing and collecting information this time around is that the registration process has changed," Brassel said. "In 1990, most registration still took place in lines. This was easier to do then because they could hand them the form. This time, the schools were saying they worked hard to get students out of lines."

Kansas University used to require all students to pay fees in person, said Richard Morrell, university registrar. The questionnaires would be handed out at that time, and students couldn't get their statement of account until they turned it in.

Since then, the university has gone to fee payment by mail, Morrell said.

To make up for the lack of contact in 2000, the university printed the questionnaire in the Timetable of Classes, sent out a letter to students telling them the form was important and made a printable version of the form available online.

"We did everything we could possibly think of to get that in the hands of the students," Morrell said. "They just didn't turn it in very well."

-- Staff writer Mindie Paget can be reached at 832-7187.

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