By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Census data questioned
Report says Liberty losing population
Sonny Timmerman.tif
Planning commission director Sonny Timmerman - photo by Courier file photo
As surrounding counties continue to chart rapid growth, Liberty County’s most recent census numbers appear to be out of sync with these areas. City officials’ estimates of population and growth rate are higher than data reported by the census bureau.
According to the latest census, Liberty County’s population is 58,491, marking a 3.2 percent decrease from the previous year and a 5.1 percent decrease since 2000.
“That’s balderdash,” City Manager Billy Edwards said. He said he thinks the actual number is around 70,000, and quickly growing based on the number of people the city provides with water and sewer services.
“There’s no doubt there’s been growth and a population increase.”
On March 19, the census bureau reported Bryan County (up by 3.9 percent) and Effingham County (up by 2.5 percent) were among the fastest-growing counties in the state. Chatham and Long County are both up about one percent. Long County is up 11 percent since 2000.
Sonny Timmerman, with the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission, said anyone who works or lives in Liberty County can see that the area is growing rather than decreasing.
“Just go out on the highways. The traffic is different than it used to be,” he said.
Because a lot of federal and state funding is doled out according to population, Timmerman said the incorrect numbers could have a serious, negative impact on the county’s budget.
Edwards said city officials already have spoken up about the problem, presenting the bureau with numbers to support their claims. Officials requested a recount but were told they would have to wait until the next census because a recount wasn’t feasible.
In an effort to correct what they feel are incorrect numbers and ensure all available funding, Timmerman said a group of city leaders, including Mayor Thomas and County Commissioner John McIver have agreed to raise public awareness for the 2010 census, which is the next federal census. 
Both officials said they think the numbers are skewed partially because of the transient nature of the military-heavy population.
However, Edwards said it’s not just the military that’s experiencing growth — population is up across the board.
“There’s a lot of natural growth too,” he said, claiming both business and retirement are drawing people to the area. “There’re a number of factors.”
Sign up for our e-newsletters