City questions Census drop

Thursday, July 5, 2007

SL falls below 10,000 mark; Lakeside, Alta, LG growing

According to newly-released U.S. Census Bureau 2006 estimates, Buena Vista County's population is continuing to slowly decline, down 1.6 percent from the last full Census in 2000. The estimates are based on data collected through July 1, 2006.

Only three of the 10 cities of Buena Vista County had a rise in population since 2000, according to the new report - Lakeside with 3.8 percent, Alta with .69 percent, and Linn Grove at 1.4 percent.

Storm Lake had one of the highest drops in population with 1.9 percent drop - equal to about 200 people - leaving population at around 9,882 and falling below the 10,000 mark locals had worked to achieve in the 2000 Census.

Storm Lake City Administrator Patti Moore sharply questions the accuracy of the data collected.

"I'm not positive on how they form the estimates but we have seen continued growth within the school district, and with new businesses opening up and the housing situation, I'm sure that we have grown rather than gotten smaller," Moore said. "Maybe when they give the 2007 estimates we will see a rise in population."

The numbers have a practical purpose - some forms of government funding are based on cities' populations. According to Moore, most of the population-based funds that would apply to Storm Lake remain based on the 2000 Census - 10,076 people - until the next major count in 2010.

The Census data is often questioned for its accuracy in counting immigrant populations which may tend to be mobile and less accessible for data collection - an issue that impacts numbers in Storm Lake and adjacent communities.

Storm Lake officials are already looking ahead to the 2010 count.

"We are getting ready and will be working very hard in 2010 to get an accurate count for the Census," Moore said. "With the rise in the school enrolment and other numbers I think that when the 2010 Census comes out, Storm Lake will have grown beyond the numbers for the 2000 census," Moore said.

Some cities have paid to have a special census done after experiencing major growth. Moore could not recall Storm Lake doing a special survey over her 30 year career.

According to Census estimates, Lakeside had the high est population percentage growth in Buena Vista County, as evidenced by a number of new homes constructed. The population jumped from 484 people to 502, creating a 3.8 percent rise.

Truesdale had the biggest percentage drop of 2.2 percent, but according to the estimates, that represents only a loss of three people.

Clay County (the Spencer region) has had a drop in population as well. Spencer has seen an estimated 2.4 percent drop in their population since the the 2000 Census but still has population over 11,000.

Cherokee County continued to see a dramatic loss in population, with losses recorded in eight cities since 2000. The City of Cherokee is reported to have an estimated 7.5 percent drop, sending population crashing below 5,000 people.

The state of Iowa is reported to have an average drop of 1.6 percent from the 2000 Census.

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