The census numbers are in
June 25, 2008 · Updated 1:36 PM
"Whidbey Island by the numbersSo far, Census 2000 has broken down population numbers on Whidbey Island by the city in which the people live. It will be a few more months before population numbers for zip code areas, such as Freeland, Greenbank and Clinton, become available.Island County (total): 71,558Island County (unincorporated): 49,081Oak Harbor: 19,795Coupeville: 1,723Langley: 959The people have been counted and for Island County and Langley government officials, the figures are disappointing.The recently completed Census 2000 shows that both the county and the city of Langley have fewer residents than officials thought, a discrepancy that will cost both in terms of lost funding. Numbers recently released by Census 2000 show that Island County has a total of 71,558 residents, several thousand fewer than the county's Board of Commissioners thought, but far more than the 60,195 people who lived here in 1990.In Langley, Mayor Lloyd Furman found his city's numbers vexing. The Census Bureau counted 959 people within the city limits, 156 fewer than the total estimated by the state's Office of Financial Management.Furman said he believes the count to be grossly inaccurate. Upon questioning census officials, he said he found that two areas of the town -- the land side of Edgecliff Drive and the city's multi-family housing area off Sixth Street, were not added into the city's total.We were badly short changed by the census count, Furman claimed.Furman said he can only guess at how the two areas were missed. It is possible that some of the people living there did not get census forms because they have post office boxes instead of home mailboxes. The Census Bureau does not send forms to P.O. boxes. But for all those people to be excluded from the count would require the complete omission of their census counting block from the city's count.How that might have happened is difficult to say. At least some of the people living in the two areas did receive and fill out census forms. Creekside Terrace residents Glen and Val Nichols received their forms months ago. Their condominium is part of one of the two disputed areas.At the county level, County Commissioner Mike Shelton had nothing so obvious to point to for the county's unexpectedly low population number. Shelton he said he expected the census to find more people living in Island County than it did.I thought we would be somewhere between 74,000 and 76,000, he said.Certain recent trends, Shelton said, could be keeping the population low. Although there has been visible growth on Camano Island, Shelton said the population at the Whidbey Naval Air Station is flat or declining, and ferry ridership to and from the island is down by 7.5 percent during the past year. On South Whidbey, recent new construction of homes and businesses do not seem to translate into more people, Shelton said. Many of the new homes being built must be for vacation or weekend use, he said, and the people who own them are being counted as residents somewhere else. The South Whidbey School District is going through a period of declining enrollment.Both Shelton and Furman said the low population figures will cost government per-capita money distributions from the state. Furman said Langley will lose $2,000 to $4,000 in law enforcement and other funding. However, neither he nor Shelton are interested in challenging the Census Bureau's numbers. Furman said it would cost more to get the numbers changed than the city is losing in revenues. He said the city will wait until the Office of Financial Management makes its population estimates next year to correct perceived shortfalls in the census count.Challenging the count would only be an easy process if the Census Bureau had shifted part of Langley's count into unincorporated Island County. Bob Clingham, a spokesperson with the Census Bureau's Seattle office said an error like that could be quickly rectified. If people in Langley actually went uncounted, the city would have to prove its point in the bureau's resolution process and might have to pay for a new count.Numbers and data generated by the census will continue to be reported until about 2003. To keep abreast of all the newest developments, go to the Census 2000 Web site at www.census.gov. "