As the population within Delaware County continues to excelerate, city officials exude a confidence in the area’s ability to manage the growth — especially since the numbers fall in line with estimates by regional planners’.
“That’s not an easy number to get so accurate,” Delaware County Commissioner Ken O’Brien said of U.S. Census Bureau data released this week. The county grew by a whopping 58.4 percent over the last decade, making it the fastest growing county in the state, according to the census report.
Anticipating the correct figure is important, O’Brien added, so that resources such as roads, water, gas and electric, are distributed proportionally.
“It’s important to have accurate data so you can better serve the residents and not over-build and cause yourself to have huge debt,” he added.
According to the 2010 Census, the county’s population grew from 109,989 residents in 2000 to 174,214 residents in 2010, far outpacing any other county in the state. Warren County registered the next highest growth rate, with an increase of 34.3 percent.
County Auditor George Kaitsa said the numbers reflect how Delaware is evolving from a rural county into a more suburban one.
Within the county, the Columbus/Polaris area showed the greatest growth, with an increase of 280 percent, Kaitsa said. Concord was next (127 percent), followed by Galena (114 percent), Genoa (104 percent), Orange (91 percent), and Powell (84 percent).
The county’s population information is especially significant, since the national head count translates into dollar signs.
Kaitsa said the county has received about $104 million a year from 2000 to 2008 in federal funds based on census results. Those funds are allocated through a population-based formula. The numbers equate to about $632 in federal funding per resident retrieved about $632 — money that is used for medicaid and various social programs.
“It’s a significant amount of money,” Kaitsa said.
Kaitsa added he was pleased with the county’s participation rate. Delaware County’s mail participation rate was 82 percent, while the state’s was 74 percent, the same as the national average.
Also of note: The county’s racial makeup has changed over the past 10 years. Blacks are no longer the largest minority group in the county. That statistic now belongs to the Asian population, which grew by 340 percent to 7,346 residents. That compares to 5,837 blacks. The black population in the county grew by 110 percent since 2000, according to the census.
The census figures also determine political boundaries.
Kaitsa said while it may be premature to speculate, that “there was discussion that, because of the growth in Delaware County, we may end up with two districts.”
Commissioner O’Brien attributed the county’s growth to several factors, including proximity to Franklin County, natural resources, quality schools, and especially the “highly educated, hard-working” workforce.
“People tend to gravitate toward places that are great to be around,” O’Brien said.
Kaitsa said that Delaware’s suburban atmosphere near a metropolitan area also contributed to its growth, especially in the southern area of the county.
“I moved to Powell in 1992 when Powell was still a village,” Kaitsa reflected. “With the 2000 Census, Powell became a city, and here we are continuing to grow.”