Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2001

City’s population growing younger

June 20, 2001

The city of Tonganoxie is getting a little younger according to information gleaned during the 2000 U.S. Census.

While the city's population grew by 381 since the 1990 Census, the number of people in Tonganoxie who are 65 years old and older dropped from 393 to 365.

At the same time, the number of children who are under 5 increased by 60 from 1990 to 2000 from 168 to 228.

But the increase in children under 5 doesn't represent the great strides that the superintendent of Tonganoxie schools would like. The school district's student population has been on a seven-year slide.

"It would be wonderful to have a 20-student increase a year," said Richard Erickson, superintendent. "I think that's manageable. It provides some additional budget authority for our school district, and it's nice, steady, controlled growth."

Erickson is hopeful, though, that the district has turned the corner. Last year, 86 kindergartners were enrolled in Tonganoxie schools, while officials are projecting a kindergarten class of up to 120 students this fall.

"I hope we're on the upswing," he said.

The number of households in the city grew by 175 during the past 10 years, to a total of 999, according to the census.

So-called family households increased by 98 from 639 to 737 in 2000. Of those, the number of married-couple households increased from 532 in 1990 to 575 in 2000.

The number of one-person households also increased, but at a slower rate from 185 in 1990 to 262 in 2000.

While family households may have increased, not all families are sending their students to public schools.

"I think part of that is a growing home-school population," Erickson said. "And we have competition from the Christian school. We have a high percentage of people moving to this area who do not have children of school age."

Because the U.S. Census changed the way it categorized information between the 1990 count and the 2000 count, it's not possible to determine changes in Tonganoxie's population in any other categories.

The breakdown of women and men in Tonganoxie remained fairly steady during the past 10 years. In the 1990 census, workers counted 1,115 men, representing 47.5 percent of the population, and 1,232 woman, representing 52.5 percent. In 2000, a total of 1,306 men were living in the city, which represents 47.9 percent of the population, while 1,422 women were counted, representing 52.1 percent of the total population.

The city's racial makeup has diversified slightly in the past 10 years. In 1990, a total of 2,316 people 98.7 percent identified themselves as white. In 2000, a total of 2,598 people 95.2 percent identified themselves as white.

Other races identified in the census include:

Black or African American: 32 people, representing 1.2 percent, in 2000, and 11 people, representing 0.5 percent, in 1990.

American Indian and Alaska native: 24 people, representing 0.9 percent, in 2000, and 10 people, representing 0.42 percent, in 1990.

Hispanic or Latino: 62 people, representing 2.3 percent, in 2000, and 27 people, representing 1.2 percent in 1990.

While the total number of households in Tonganoxie increased during the past 10 years, the number of rental units grew more quickly than owner-occupied housing.

Of the 824 housing units counted in Tonganoxie during the 1990 census, 614 were owner-occupied, while 210 were rental units, and another 44 were vacant.

That compares with the 999 housing units in the 2000 Census, of which 677 were owner-occupied, 322 were rental units and 33 were vacant.

"I'm not too surprised," said City Administrator Chris Clark. "Of the 99 new homes we had in 2000, I think 66 were duplexes," he said.

In April 2000, the city issued building permits for 17 dwelling units, while only two were issued this year. And in May 2000, a total of 16 permits were issued, compared with 12 this year.

"We may be a little bit ahead of the market, only because of the bad economic news," Clark said. "But from the people I've talked to, I think that will be temporary."

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