Are we really growing too fast? |

Are we really growing too fast?

Andy Bourelle

Although the recent report from the state demographer’s office says Douglas County is growing at a 5.6 percent rate, not all county residents think that is accurate.

“Our concern: are we getting accurate information?” asked John Hamer, general manager of Coldwell Banker ITILDO Inc.

Hamer said he has a report he received in August from the state demographer’s office which is significantly different from the November report.

The August report indicated the population projection for 1997 was 38,641. The most recent report from the demographer’s office estimates Douglas County’s population at 39,590 residents.

Hamer said he wondered why the numbers fluctuated so much in only a few months time.

Also, Hamer said, according to information from the Carson-Douglas-Lyon-Tahoe Board of Realtors, the number of homes sold in 1997 is less than in 1996. He said he didn’t understand how the county could be growing at a 5.6 percent rate, while home sales were actually down.

“I think we need to get a better understanding of what the estimate is based on,” Hamer said. “From our perspective, that’s not housing.”

Lisa Wetzel of Coldwell Banker agreed, saying that in addition to housing sales softening, vacancies in rentals have increased and the commercial market has also softened.

Wetzel said the state of real estate is healthy and optimistic, but is down from last year. The January flood had a significant effect on home sales early in the year.

While Wetzel and Hamer work mostly in the Valley, they said they didn’t think Lake growth could be so much as to offset the average.

“Where are these people?” Hamer said.

Dave Bolick, executive director of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, said he thought the process of estimating the population would be difficult because several types of information have to be used. But, he said he didn’t feel the estimate was inaccurate compared to Nevada’s estimated growth rate.

“In comparison with the way the rest of the state is growing, it sounds like a possibility,” Bolick said. “There’s no way to say whether it’s right or wrong. The state demographer is just using the best information available to him.”

Nevada as a whole is growing at a rate of 5.5 percent, according to the report.

John Doughty, Douglas County planning and economic development manager, said he felt the demographer’s report was fairly accurate.

“I think it’s pretty close,” he said, “as close as any other projection or estimate could be. I don’t believe the numbers are that far off.”

The next official census will be in 2000.

The state demographer’s office estimates the population each year for the Department of Taxation, which uses the figures to determine the amount of state cigarette, liquor, sales and other taxes that are distributed to cities and counties. The recent report is preliminary, and cities and counties have until Dec. 14 to appeal the report’s figures.

Douglas County does not plan to appeal the report.

“I think it (the growth rate) is probably less, probably isn’t quite 5.6,” said County Commission Chair Jacques Etchegoyhen, “but it’s probably not worth the trouble of appealing.”

State demographer Dean Judson, who prepared the report, could not be reached for this story.