Officials think Troy numbers are inaccurate

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2001


Staff Writers

Pike County’s growth over the past 10 years was only about 7.3 percent.

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According to the 2000 Census results, the county’s total population is 29,605, compared to the 27,595 recorded in 1990.

Those figures rank Pike County as 35 among the state’s 67 counties. Overall, the state reported a population of 4,447,100, which was a 10.06 percent increase since the 1990 census.

Troy officials had a problem with those 1990 numbers and, this year, the story was no different.

Census 2000 indicates the city’s population is 13,935. Of those counted, 8,207 reported they were white and 5,373 stated they were black. Only two reported they were Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander; 36 were American Indians; 96 were Asians; 181 were Hispanics; 61 said they were "some other race;" and 160 were "two or more races."

That total reflects an increase of city residents of less than 900 people in 10 years, and Mayor Jimmy Lunsford doesn’t think the increase is accurate.

"From what we have seen, Troy has seen substantial growth in the last 10 years," he said. "We’re basing this on our preliminary look at utility and water users in the time period. I believe the increase was higher than the census reported."

Lunsford is concerned about low census numbers due to a variety of issues that affect the city, including the opportunity to obtain additional state and federal funds based on population.

"When the numbers are low, it affects us all," he said. "We don’t see some of the benefits we would see if those numbers were higher."

Other factors Lunsford said lead him to believe the numbers are low include the Latino and Hispanic population.

"We have seen substantial growth in the Spanish-speaking community in Pike County and we believe the city itself is much higher than the numbers indicate," he said.

Since 1990, the city has added substantially to its land area, incorporating several large subdivisions including Crowe Hill, areas along Enzor Road, George Wallace Drive and down Elm Street Road.

"This would seemingly account for a sizeable chunk of that growth," he said. "We don’t see how these numbers could be accurate."

Lunsford said city officials offered assistance to census officials to help ensure some hard-to-find areas of town were properly counted.

"They didn’t want out help," he said. "I don’t know any way to describe our feelings other than to say we’re disappointed and that we’re skeptical of these numbers’ accuracy."

Pike County’s second largest municipality, Brundidge, reportedly has a population of 2,341.

The census figures indicate the city has a large minority population, with 1,487 blacks, 782 whites, 12 American Indians, six Asians, 54 individuals who are of "two or more races" and 19 Hispanics.

In the past 10 years, the city has lost 131 people, Mayor Jimmy Ramage said.

"We didn’t expect any large amount of growth," Ramage said. "We knew we basically had the same number of households, looking at utilities."

In other words, the Census 2000 was "no big surprise" for Ramage.

The biggest increase was in the number of Hispanics who have apparantly moved into the city in the past 10 years. He said both the white and black populations decreased, indicating the change can be attributed to the Hispanic increase and a larger number of those who claim "two or more races" in their heritage.

Goshen Mayor Michael Sanders was also not surprised with the recent census results.

Census 2000 recorded 300 residents of Goshen, which Sanders said "is pretty well in line" with past census results.

The numbers show Goshen as having 203 white residents, 88 blacks and nine American Indians.

Banks’ total population is 224 with 190 of those recorded being white, 23 black and four American Indians and two Hispanics. Two individuals reported being of "some other race" and five reported they were of "two or more races."

Countywide, the census results show a total of 17,990 whites, 10,835 blacks, 194 American Indians, 105 Asians, five Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander, 76 of "some other race," 400 of "two or more races" and 365 Hispanics.

Evaluating all the numbers, a majority of the white population is living outside of the incorporated areas of the county.

"Initially, it sounds like good news," said Marsha Gaylard, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce.

Gaylard went on to say that census numbers a decade ago were "way off."

She said population breakdowns can have a big impact. For example, an increase in the number of those living with low to moderate incomes, means the county qualifies for more grant money.

Although the growth was only 7.3 percent, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

"One of the things we’ve always tried to do is be prepared for growth," Gaylard said, adding that is one reason the Chamber initiated a strategic planning process.

"We want it to be controlled growth," Gaylard said of anything the county experiences.

The overall ranking of Pike County, by percentage growth, was 35 of 67 counties in the state. The average county in the state grew by 10 percent, taking into account the explosively high numbers shown in the top 10.

Shelby and Baldwin counties showed more than 40 percent growth while Elmore, Lee, Blount and St. Clair counties showed growth of more than 30 percent.

On the other end, Sumter and Perry counties were the only two that lost residents in numbers greater than 5 percent.