Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, July 24, 2000

Wright County's population on rise

By John Holler

For any business or community, growth is always seen as a good thing. It's a sign that things are going well.

However, when it comes to Wright County, growth hasn't always been viewed with the same enthusiasm. While county leaders are proud of the fact that so many people want to relocate to Wright County, the continued growth over the last 15 years has shown no signs of slowing down and that trend is continuing.

At the July 18 meeting of the Wright County Board, the commissioners received word from the State Demographer's Office that the growth of Wright County continues at a steady pace. Because census figures are compiled just once every 10 years, the demographer's numbers, which are based on new housing units, are the standard by which populations are determined. The most recent figures show Wright County's 1999 population at 87,799 - an increase of almost 3,000 people from the previous year, but a number that the county board had a dispute with.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we're closer to 90,000 or 91,000," Commissioner Ken Jude said. "Those figures were actually compiled in 1998, so, if a city or township, where the growth remains steady, was one of the first done, it could be as much as two years old already and a little outdated."

The numbers reflected growth throughout the county, with most coming in the eastern part, closest to the Twin Cities metro area. Here is a listing of the population estimates, with the number in parentheses representing the estimated growth in the last year:

Cities: Albertville - 3,226 (333); Annandale ­ 2,496 (24); Buffalo ­ 9,950 (275); Clearwater ­ 830 (49); Cokato ­ 2,495 (15); Dayton ­ 54 (0); Delano ­ 3,481 (104); Hanover ­ 919 (5); Howard Lake ­ 1,770 (21); Maple Lake 1,571 ­ (43); Monticello ­ 7,756 (677); Montrose ­ 1,076 (22); Otsego ­ 6,690 (120); ­ Rockford 3,678 ­ (23); St. Michael ­ 8,291 (648); South Haven ­ 200 (minus-1); Waverly ­ 692 (27).

Townships: Albion ­ 1,193 (18); Buffalo ­ 1,663 (28); Chatham ­ 1,101 (31); Clearwater ­ 1,362 (46); Cokato 1,196 ­ (8); Corinna ­ 2,361 (22); Franklin ­ 3,065 (27); French Lake ­ 1,093 (15); Maple Lake ­ 2,180 (17); Marysville ­ 2,140 (23); Middleville ­ 975 (5); Monticello ­ 4,373 (39); Rockford ­ 3,678 (23); Silver Creek ­ 2,265 (26); Southside ­ 1,411 (21); Stockholm ­ 840 (minus-15); Victor ­ 1,158 (4); Woodland ­ 1,213 (14).

County total: 87,779 (2,853).

While the figures showed growth in all but two of the county's 35 governmental units, the growth was concentrated, as usual, in a small area along the I-94 corridor.

Of the total increase, 68 percent (1,933 people) came from four cities - Monticello, St. Michael, Albertville and Buffalo.

The formula used by the demographer's office are the numbers used by the state in several funding scenarios for cities and townships, and at least one local government appealed its original population figure, which County Auditor Doug Gruber said isn't too surprising considering the inexact science of determining population by housing figures.

"The whole thing is like shooting at a moving target," Gruber said. "It's the same as trying to do tax assessments. You have to set a cutoff date for a specific period, but new houses are going up all the time. By the time you actually get numbers to go by, they're already outdated."

The board accepted the figures, but added that the growth hasn't shown any signs of slowing and likely won't any time soon.

"Within the next couple of years, the population of Hanover will double and every city seems to have more permits to build," Commissioner Jack Russek said. "We've had to try to do our planning to deal with growth and it's a problem we deal with every year. This year is no exception and it doesn't show any sign of stopping any time soon."

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