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2011-03-24

Neither fire nor flood - census eliminates city residents

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC

Where have they gone?
The City of Bandera apparently lost at least 150 people between the taking of the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census. Interestingly, it appears that adding The Oaks of Bandera apartment complex and Buck Creek subdivision to the city limits in that decade had a significant negative effect on the population of the town.
“It’s very disappointing,” said City Administrator Gene Foerster. “These census numbers are much lower than we expected.”
According to the Census Department’s related website, American FactFinder, the city of Bandera’s 2000 population was 1,007, although Foerster said the official population number the city has been using for 10 years has been 957. The total population count for 2011 Census only came to 857, a loss of 100 to 150 folks.
The Oaks of Bandera opened 76 units “around 2004 or ’05,” said a spokesman for the apartment complex. Most of the units are multi-person, and “we are about 90 percent occupied,” the spokesman continued. That should have added an estimated increase of 150-200 persons to the city’s population total.
Right next door to The Oaks, eight homes are occupied in the Buck Creek subdivision, with an estimated population of 15 people.
Unless a lot of people disappeared from the heart of the town lying in the loop of the Medina River, the 2011 Census totals for the city were expected to hit a total population of 1,100 to 1,200.
In contrast to the disappearing population of the City of Bandera, every other political subdivision in the county showed an increase in population. Bandera County’s total population increased six percent, from 17,645 in 2000 to 20,485 in 2011.
Population in the Medina area increased 5.8 percent, from 2,328 to 2,726 in 2011. The Lakehills area grew the most, from 4,668 in 2010 to 5,150 in 2011, an increase of 9.7 percent.
Many people think that if the population of the city goes over 1,000, the city can begin annexing property, said Foerster. “That is a misunderstanding,” he explained. “There are procedures that have to be done before any annexing can be done, including a vote by the people. Also, when a city proposes annexation, it has to provide a service plan, including police, fire and utilities.”
The lower population numbers could have an adverse effect on the city’s coffers for the next 10 years, until the 2021 Census. “It will have an impact on grants,” said Foerster. “That’s the money we get from state and federal agencies, from HUD, or block grants from Texas Rural Community Affairs and AACOG.” All such grants are based on census figures.
Foerster said he intends to contact the office of US Rep. Lamar Smith to find out how the city can protest the 2011 Census totals for Bandera.