Archive for Sunday, November 18, 2012

City hopes challenge to Census Bureau will add 2,400 to Lawrence’s population total

November 18, 2012


Lawrence’s population mystery soon may be over.

City officials are ready to acknowledge the city’s population didn’t grow as much over the past decade as they once thought — but they still believe the U.S. Census Bureau has undercounted the city’s population by about 2,400 people.

City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will be asked to send an official letter asking the Census Bureau to review evidence gathered by city staff that suggests there were about 90,000 people living in the city in 2010 rather than the official Census count of 87,643.

The appeal could end a multi-year disagreement between the city and the Census on population totals.

“At the end of this process, I think we’re going to be much closer to knowing how many people actually are living in Lawrence,” said Amy Miller, a planner who has been leading the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department’s review of the Census numbers.

This much already seems certain: There aren’t as many people living in Lawrence as leaders once thought. In 2010, the city’s planning department estimated there were 92,727 people living in the city.

If a number near 90,000 ends up being the new 2010 Census population figure, the city will be about four years behind where it thought it was. The city estimated it cracked the 90,000 barrier in 2006.

Miller said it is important for the city to have an accurate population number because planners rely heavily on the figure for tasks such as transportation planning or planning for new water and sewer infrastructure, which is heavily dependent upon population growth.

In addition, population figures are used to calculate some federal aid and grant programs available to the city.

Miller said he believes the city has a good chance of having its population total adjusted upward. Since late 2011, city staff members have been reviewing building permits, utility bills and data from the Douglas County Appraiser’s office to determine how many housing units exist in specific areas of town.

Staff members honed in on 10 Census tracts where it appeared the Census Bureau had undercounted the number of living units by at least 10 units.

In total, the city is contending the Census Bureau undercounted the number of living units in the city by 593. Miller said the undercounted areas were spread across the city, but she thinks student housing areas may have been more impacted.

“I can’t say for sure, but I think a lot of the discrepancies will be single-family homes that have been converted to multifamily use,” Miller said.

Miller said the city has good documentation about the number of housing units that have been added to the city since 2000, when the previous Census was taken.

As for why the city’s internally produced population estimates appear to have been high, Miller now suspects that the city’s 2000 Census count may have been inflated.

In other words, Lawrence may not have grown as much during the 1990s as the Census Bureau indicated. The city used the 2000 Census population total as a baseline to create population estimates for the following years. If the 2000 Census count was inflated, all of the city’s subsequent population estimates would have been inflated too.

Regardless, even if the Census Bureau revises upward the city’s 2010 population totals, the decade of the 2000s will still go down as one of the slower growth periods for the city.

If the city’s new 2010 population number is at about 90,000 people, the city will have posted population growth of 12.3 percent from 2000 to 2010. In both the 1980s and 1990s, the city's growth rates were closer to 20 percent.


kuguardgrl13 5 years, 7 months ago

The city might actually be justified in this. The state made it really easy for students to fill out the census by making it available online. The federal census was done with the traditional forms and only available at certain times at each dorm/hall/apartment. They didn't just stick the forms in our mailboxes like every other resident. There may have also been discrepancies if students were included in their parents' census form. Since most students spend the majority of the time at their school residence, the census bureau does not want students included with their parents unless they live there full time (i.e. no dorm or apartment). The university did not do a good job of providing information for students on how to complete the census. Most of us were only children in 2000 and had basically no idea.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

Students are part time population which are gone 3-4 months at a time. Which can quickly reduce the Lawrence real population to about 68,000.

The city may well be wanting to justify more pork barrel spending that further expands taxpayer liability. Like a $100,000, 000 sewage treatment plant. The fewer people living in Lawrence the more it will cost we existing taxpayers for a new sewage treatment plant that a large portion of us will never be connected. I don't want a new NOT necessary 100 million $$$$$ sewage treatment plant coming out of my wallet.

Or they may want to further bloat the retail market which again produces economic displacement not economic growth which can become a tax increase to make up for lost tax dollar revenue.

As long as Sam Brownback is governor fewer people will relocate to Kansas and more will relocate away from Kansas. Sam Brownback = higher taxes for all communities which means higher user fees to make up for tax dollar losses created by Sam Brownback.

It does seem to me that city hall has adopted supply side economics which is borrow borrow borrow spend spend spend = tax $$$$$$ increases.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

Tax increasing growth has been rightly blamed for many things: destroying green space, increasing air and water pollution, fracturing our neighborhoods ,closing neighborhood schools and ignoring the taxpayers desire for a walking/cycling friendly community.

But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned. Developers and their tax increasing business unfriendly growth plans are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Higher city taxes/user fees is the direct result of over 30 years of subsidies paid for by the local taxpayers. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads, water/sewer lines,traffic lights as well as the quite generous ones like the wide variety of tax incentives that support local developers in their quest to further over build Lawrence,Kansas.

The Lawrence Downtown family retail experience is an endangered species thus business unfriendly.

We've subsidized tax increasing growth at such a basic level for so long, that many taxpayers believe without it Lawrence will die. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of business unfriendly tax increasing development.

josephcopsey 5 years, 7 months ago

The Census Bureau will not do any recounting for the 2010 Census. The only population adjustment it will make is if there were coding errors or boundary mistakes. A better bet at this point is to challenge the yearly population estimates from the Census Bureau. If more housing units are found, then the Census Bureau will adjust population counts based on that.

whatever95 5 years, 7 months ago

Let's get it started again from the top:


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