Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, May 17, 1999

Wright County keeps on growing

By John Holler

It shouldn't come as any great surprise that Wright County is continuing to grow, but, as we near the 2000 census, the disparity between the actual numbers and the figures from the 1990 census continues to be more apparent.

At the May 11 meeting of the Wright County Board, the commissioners were presented with preliminary population and household figures from the state demographer's office - the body that is used as the official population count in years between censuses. The numbers indicate that the county's growth is showing no signs of letting up.

The figures estimated the county's population at 84,926, up 3 percent since the 1997 figures and a whopping 23.6 percent increase from the 1990 census figure of 68,710. County Assessor Doug Gruber stressed that the numbers are not concrete figures at this point.

"It should be noted that these are preliminary numbers and not the final figures," Gruber said. "Those will come out this summer and I will bring those figures back to the board."

The demographer's numbers are important, because they are the figures used to base state aid for cities and townships throughout the state and, unless a local government unit disputes the total figures presented, they become official in July and the standard by which the population will be viewed for the next year.

This formula, however, is an inexact science to say the least - a point brought out by Commissioner Dick Mattson.

"I guess it comes down to which set of numbers you believe," Mattson said. "I went onto the Internet and looked at the numbers put out by the demographer's office and they were different. This makes three different sets of numbers put out by the same people and none of them are the same."

In one set of figures, the demographer's office estimates the population of Wright County as 84,060 - going as far as to break down population figures in terms of sex and age. Yet, that figure is already less than the figure currently being projected for 1998. If current trends continue, Wright County's population by the time the 1990 census figures are in could well be over 90,000.

As would be expected, the largest population increases are in the areas along the I-94 and Highway 12 corridor, including the cities of Albertville (up by 409 people), St. Michael (up 381), Buffalo (up 351) and Monticello (up 330).

"It isn't too surprising that the growth is coming along that area," Mattson said. "What's going to end up happening is that we're going to get so much growth in that part of the county, when commissioner districts get divided after the census, two commissioners are going to represent about 80 percent of the land area of the county."

The figures will remain unofficial until July. Government units have until then to dispute a population figure. If they are not disputed, they will become the official numbers.

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