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Setting record straight on population

Posted: June 19, 2013 - 4:09pm

Your article in last week’s paper has some very misleading population data. In 2002 Homer annexed a large area. According to the city’s website, in 2002 the newly annexed city had a population of 5,532 people. The 2010 census showed a population of 5,003 people. The net loss in population was 529 people or 9.6 percent in eight years.

To be fair, the population data for the newly annexed Homer was probably overstated  making it tough to definitively determine population growth; however,  2,000 people moving to Homer in the last census cycle is completely false.

In the same post-annexation eight years, the city’s total tax take, defined as total sales tax and total property tax combined, went from $5,725,804 to $9,665,559. This is a 69 percent increase in an eight-year period. (Total tax take was up 85 percent in six years then we had a recession and cut out the seasonal grocery tax so the honest number is 69 percent in eight years.)

The Anchorage Consumer Price Index increased 23.7 percent during the same eight years. In a period of diminishing population, the total tax take increased at roughly three times the rate of inflation. 

Two thousand people moving to Homer might justify such a large increase in local taxes; 529 people leaving Homer certainly does not.

The article did state that, “Homer’s earnings fell below those of the state as a whole in every category except local government.” This I believe. The state economist compared pre-annexation Homer with post-annexation Homer. The error is so basic I am surprised nobody caught it. The information is from the city’s website and the Anchorage CPI. 

Just thought I would set the record straight.

Brad Faulkner

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