Archive for Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Latest estimate boosts city’s population 7.74%

July 11, 2007

Basehor is no stranger to steady population growth, and this past year proved to be more of the same.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its 2006 population estimates, which showed Basehor increasing from 3,270 in 2005 to 3,523 in 2006 -- an increase of 253.

"I think we're staying pretty consistent with our growth numbers," Basehor Mayor Chris Garcia said. "We can see from the number of building permits we're issuing that it's probably going to continue."

The city's 7.74 percent increase makes it the sixth fastest growing city in the state of Kansas. Westmoreland took the top spot with a 12.86 percent increase to 737, while Maize was second with a 11.09 percent increase to 2,684. Basehor neighbor Tonganoxie took third with a 9.19 percent increase to 4,101, and the fourth spot went to Gardner with an 8.93 percent increase to 15,597. Courtland, a town in north central Kansas, was fifth with a 7.93 percent increase to 313.

Basehor has seen its population increase 54 percent since the 2000 census.

Some nearby towns, such as Lawrence, Leavenworth and Kansas City, Kan., experienced decreases in population, the Census Bureau's latest numbers showed.

"I think we still have affordable housing and land available for development for both residential and commercial," Garcia said about Basehor's continued growth. "We're also right down the road from the racetrack, so that probably attracts people to southern Leavenworth County."

The city, however, is feeling growing pains when it comes to city services and facilities. City Administrator Carl Slaugh said one of the biggest issues the city is dealing with right now is the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant. While it is normal to expand a treatment facility every 15 to 20 years, Slaugh said, the city just expanded its plant about eight years ago and is already planning another expansion.

"That increases our debt load, and we're trying to figure out how to deal with that now," he said. "User rates are already one of the highest in the region. We're trying to figure out how to increase revenue without raising those monthly rates again."

Space issues also become a concern, Slaugh said. With the population growth comes an increase in demand for services and the need to increase the city staff. The city will soon need to be thinking about constructing a larger City Hall, but with a new library under construction and the school district on the brink of proposing a new bond issue, that may prove to be difficult.

"It would be challenging for the community to have new schools, a new library and new city facilities that all would require tax increases of some sort to help pay for them," Slaugh said.

The steady population increase also gives the city a small boost.

"On the positive side, because of the population increase, there is an increase in revenue because property taxes are going up and sales taxes are going up somewhat," Slaugh said. "But, not enough to give us a surplus."

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