Census numbers show population rise

Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2001

The numbers are rolling in.

The U.S. Census Bureau delivered the findings of its 2000 national head count to the state of Alaska Monday, and Tuesday the state began posting results on its Web site.

The official count for the Kenai Peninsula Borough was 49,691. That compares with 40,802 in 1990, the previous official census.

Many of the other census data will become available later, but the racial breakouts were included in the early numbers. They show the borough as predominantly (86 percent) white. The largest minority was Alaska Native or American Indian at 7.5 percent of the population. The category of multiple races, never offered before on the census, was popular here with nearly 4 percent choosing that option. About 2 percent identified themselves as Hispanic. Other minority groups on the peninsula, in descending order by count, were Asian (480 people), "other" (415), black (229) and Pacific islanders (86).

Official counts for the main towns were:

n Cooper Landing -- 369 (243 in 1990);

n Homer -- 3,946 (3,660 in 1990);

n Kenai -- 6,942 (6,327 in 1990);

n Nikiski -- 4,327 (2,743 in 1990);

n Ninilchik -- 772 (456 in 1990);

n Ridgeway -- 1,932 (2,018 in 1990);

n Seward -- 2,830 (2,699 in 1990);

n Soldotna -- 3,759 (3,482 in 1990);

n Sterling -- 4,705 (3,802 in 1990).

The Kenai Peninsula Borough will be scrutinizing the figures to determine if seats for the borough assembly need to be redistricted, which is normal after a census, reported Borough Clerk Linda Murphy.

"I expect that the assembly is going to declare itself malapportioned," she said.

Murphy is reviewing census data but will not know how they will affect assembly districts until she can compare the new information with maps and 1990 figures. The census-designated places, or CDPs, the Census Bureau uses differ from state and borough election boundaries, so it will take time to align the information.

She said she plans to deliver a preliminary report to the borough assembly at its April 3 meeting.

The assembly will set up a committee to look at reapportionment. The borough must wait until after the state level reapportionment, due in June, before finalizing plans. The assembly will choose plan options from the committee recommendations and place them on the October ballot for the voters to make the final selection.

Murphy said one new census number already jumps out at her as particularly interesting. The census shows 34,832 residents age 18 and older, but the borough has more than 36,000 registered voters on its rolls. Murphy said those tallies show that the supposed count of eligible voters is significantly inflated by names of people no longer in the area.

"That is such a bogus number," she said.

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