Census estimates: Richmond County population shrinking

Augusta could lose its status as No. 2 city

Thursday, March 27, 2014 1:15 AM
Last updated 10:59 AM
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Census estimates released today show that Richmond County’s population decreased by nearly 670 residents in 2013, again raising suspicion that Augusta’s status as Georgia’s second-largest city could be lost to Columbus by the end of the decade.


Buffered by a high birth rate in the past, Richmond County’s population decreased from 202,672 residents in 2012 to 202,003 in 2013, with much of the decline coming from a negative migration rate.

Census data show that 1,756 more people left Richmond County than moved to the area last year. Those leaving offset the 1,075 additional births in the county when matched to deaths. Hephzibah and Blythe were included in population estimates for Richmond County, census spokeswoman Virginia Hyer said.

“I see this as sort of a blip on the radar,” Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said of the data, predicting significant growth in future years with the consolidation of Georgia Regents University, the expansion of Plant Vogtle in Burke County and the relocation of the Army Cyber Command to Fort Gordon by 2019.

Beyond a blow to Augusta’s ego, the changing population pattern could have practical and political implications on how millions of dollars in federal and state funding are shared among Georgia cities for projects involving highway planning and construction, public aid for housing, and health care and educational programs.

Muscogee County, which also is consolidated and includes no incorporated towns outside Columbus, has been closing in on Augusta for years, and the latest census estimate put its population ahead of Richmond
County’s – 202,824 residents.

Hyer said population totals recorded in 2010 remain the benchmark for measuring Georgia’s largest cities, and Copenhaver said he is not worried about losing Augusta’s No. 2 ranking when a new census is conducted in 2020. As a whole, Augusta’s seven-county metropolitan area continues to thrive, increasing from a population of 576,500 in 2012 to 580,270 residents in 2013.

Large-scale manufacturing and retail jobs are bringing big groups of people to the area, but much of the growth is coming to Columbia and Aiken counties, which, according to census data, is a more appealing place to live than Richmond County.

More than 2,800 people moved to Columbia County than left it in 2013, and the trend was similar for Aiken County, where relocation saw a net gain of 568 residents. Muscogee County had 2,481 more people move in than away in 2013.

At the rate Columbia County is growing– 3,000 to 4,000 a year– some studies have argued that it could become the population center of the Augusta metro area in the future. Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson cautioned against putting stock into projections and comparing population growth in Columbia and Richmond counties.

“Columbia County has been blessed with growth for many years, and rather than it be perceived as a negative for someone else, we like to think of it as a testament to the work our leaders have done to build a community where people like to work, live and raise a family,” Johnson said.

Copenhaver agreed, saying that before he took office, projections showed Augusta was losing population and as a result, its tax base. Since then, he said, economic development and neighborhood revitalization efforts have helped the area improve.

“You have to have a team working on it, but trend lines can be moved and I believe we have done that here in Augusta,” the mayor
said.

POPULATION TOTALS

AUGUSTA’S SEVEN METROPOLITAN COUNTIES

County2010*2011**2012**2013**
Richmond200,549201,205202,672202,003
Aiken160,099161,978163,299164,176
Columbia124,053128,096131,563135,416
Edgefield26,98526,66526,38926,436
Burke23,31623,56023,15722,923
McDuffie21,87521,61021,65021,565
Lincoln7,9967,8867,7707,751

GEORGIA METROPOLITAN AREAS

City2010*2011**2012**2013**
Atlanta5.2 million5.3 million5.4 million5.5 million
Augusta564,873571,000576,500580,270
Savannah347,611355,996362,441366,047
Columbus294,865301,938310,935316,554
Macon232,293232,743232,650231,259

* Census year ** Estimate

Comments (144) Add comment
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countyman
23557
Points
countyman 03/27/14 - 01:39 am
4
21
This is definitely just a

This is definitely just a blip and not the true reflection... The census is still predicting future growth rates based on the growth rates in the past decade. The older parts of South Augusta were still losing population then. The census estimates for Richmond County between 2006-2009 ended up being much lower than the 2010 census..

There's noway Augusta gained over 2000 people between 2010-2012 and then loss 600 between 2012-2013..

Why did the Augusta Chronicle decide these statistics were newsworthy but the 2010-2012 estimates weren't? The bias against Richmond County will never end..

bubbasauce
40672
Points
bubbasauce 03/27/14 - 02:43 am
14
3
Yes and if Augusta keeps

Yes and if Augusta keeps raising taxes like their in DC I'll be moving out soon.

Riverman1
120335
Points
Riverman1 03/27/14 - 04:24 am
12
3
See Why Spending Should Be Cut

Nocnoc, see what you started? The Commission must realize the population decline is real and cut spending. But don't worry, the CSRA continues to grow is the good news. All the counties have a role.

"More than 2,800 people moved to Columbia County than left it in 2013, and the trend was similar for Aiken County, where relocation saw a net gain of 568 residents. "

Riverman1
120335
Points
Riverman1 03/27/14 - 04:35 am
10
3
Azziz Says, Told Ya

You know Azziz is bouncing all over GRU telling everyone he was right about Augusta losing people.

corgimom
51432
Points
corgimom 03/27/14 - 04:45 am
11
8
Well, let's see. Plant

Well, let's see.

Plant Vogtle is in Burke County, and most of the people that work there permanently live in Burke County.

The GRU consolidation has already taken place, and I don't see how that would have any impact on population.

And it's already been predicted that the majority of the growth of the Cyber Command is going to CC.

I would respectfully submit that Deke is full of horsefeathers.

Dixieman
22962
Points
Dixieman 03/27/14 - 05:48 am
13
2
Read it and weep

"More than 2,800 people moved to Columbia County than left it in 2013, and the trend was similar for Aiken County, where relocation saw a net gain of 568 residents. "
Small numbers, perhaps statistically insignificant, but this is AT LEAST a four-year trend! Wake up, Augusta!!

seenitB4
128194
Points
seenitB4 03/27/14 - 06:16 am
11
3
No bias ctyman

Some can't understand the facts in front of their eyes...keep making foolish decisions & you will see more leaving....we have pointed out some problems & some have looked the other way.

GnipGnop
13738
Points
GnipGnop 03/27/14 - 06:19 am
16
3
You don't know what the future

Population will be. We sure have been telling you people are leaving. 58% graduation rates and trash taxes that are double without the service promised and the threat of property taxes constantly being raised are the culprits. Especially when the loudest voice doesn't even pay his property taxes but finds a way to get in on every conference and never misses a chance to fill up every vehicle he owns (including his Harley?) every chance he gets...Augusta politics continues on the path to Detroit....

RunnerDoc
75
Points
RunnerDoc 03/27/14 - 06:24 am
16
2
RC Must Change

This is not just a blip - why would anyone want to live in a place where the leaders were willing to designate a major portion of downtown a slum just to get more government money?? With the large population of non-tax paying population who are the ones using the services, it will continue to be hard to provide adequate services with such a limited budget. Raising taxes on those that pay taxes is not the only answer...

Until Richmond County is able to offer better education, safe streets and neighborhoods, and develops some reason for people to move to RC people will continue to flock out of RC for other places.

Developing the riverfront will bring shops, restaurants, jobs, tourist $$ - while the Commissioners will worry that putting money towards this will take it out of their ghetto neighborhoods - anything that will bring money into RC will be good for everyone in RC.

Graymare
5975
Points
Graymare 03/27/14 - 06:49 am
10
4
Tell us something we don't

Tell us something we don't already know. Selling and moving to Aiken as soon as I can. Used to love living here...not any more.

nanowerx
1748
Points
nanowerx 03/27/14 - 07:00 am
9
4
.

Moved from Richmond to Columbia about 6 years ago and haven't once regretted the decision (well, except those times when I really want to hit up a bar close by). In fact, just reading of all the Commission woes and extra taxes keeps the decision justified in my eyes.

justthefacts
34792
Points
justthefacts 03/27/14 - 07:24 am
7
6
I get the frustration of residents

But, for those who just seem to get pure pleasure out this news, well that is baffling. Get a life already.

Riverman1
120335
Points
Riverman1 03/27/14 - 07:31 am
10
3
Racial Breakdown?

I wonder if there was a racial breakdown of those moving out like the regular census has?

curly123053
7224
Points
curly123053 03/27/14 - 07:33 am
13
3
Not surprised !!

People are tired of having a defective self centered commission running the county on a regular basis. There are to many Me-players on the county commission compared to team-players. When I have had friends or family thinking about moving to the CSRA I tell them DO NOT MOVE to Richmond County. It has been obvious for several years now that many residents have moved for the same reason I warn people NOT TO MOVE to Richmond County.

Young Fred
25458
Points
Young Fred 03/27/14 - 07:47 am
5
3
"“I see this as sort of a

"“I see this as sort of a blip on the radar,” Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said of the data, predicting significant growth in future years "

You know that's right - I know scads and scads of people that just can't wait to move into Richmond county!

pja5529
3309
Points
pja5529 03/27/14 - 07:54 am
4
7
The sky is falling!!!

Richmond County lost a few hundred people!!! I'm sure the taxes created by the extra businesses (Cabelas, whole Foods etc) will offset the amount of people who moved away. And everyone who comes as result of the Cyber command won't move to CC.

nocnoc
69145
Points
nocnoc 03/27/14 - 07:58 am
6
2
Have to side with CM on this one

Using the data
the 669 loss could be anything from a different count formula
to Ft. Gordon reducing troop size, to the transfer of convicted inmates to other State prisons or all of the above. Or now that the US Congressional District lines have been redrawn, a true or fudged count to adjust districts.

However,
With the up coming national elections, we should see the numbers dramatically increase as we have more dual voter registrations taking place as has happened in the past.

BTW: is the RC Elections Office using ARC-GIS yet, or keeping up with the growing list condemned and razed Properties that are commonly used as phony address locations for voter id or State ID's ?

tckr1983
368
Points
tckr1983 03/27/14 - 07:57 am
8
3
Deke

either needs to be drug tested or he's being the consummate politician as of late... Ignoring facts and reality while substituting in their own. I drive down broad street every day on my way to work... There are some renovations of store fronts going on, but many more sit vacant.

And they think parking meters will help? We've done that before to the detriment of downtown and small business... No new ideas in this government! The commission needs to be abolished and there are too many reasons to start listing why.

tckr1983
368
Points
tckr1983 03/27/14 - 08:03 am
7
1
And I say all this

In knowing that we can do better...

nocnoc
69145
Points
nocnoc 03/27/14 - 08:11 am
7
2
Parking meters again???????

A few days ago I commented on How History will repeat itself, all you have to do is remember it, and watch for the pattern.

Here is an example

When the Northwest and SouthSide Shopping centers started opening up in the 60's. People reduced their Downtown shopping and 1 of many reasons was NO Parking tickets.

Then in the early 80's Downtown did something even dumber.
2 hour space restrictions or a Parking ticket. Remember the lazy person with the chalk stick and ticket book? Riding down side streets marking car tires? That stupid Idea killed multi-store shoppers who had to keep moving their cars.

Again helping shopping centers and Malls.

Too many people need to Face the facts.
Downtown is never going to be the Shopping retail Mecca it once was.
Downtown is on Life-Support and the County is the revenue support system keeping it alive.

slowrider
271
Points
slowrider 03/27/14 - 08:10 am
10
1
Greenville SC as a model

I was recently in Greenville, SC for business. The leaders there, some who are familiar with Augusta, point to a similar downtown "situation" there that they were able to completely turn around.

Anyone here familiar with that city, and how they were able to produce such a beautiful place in a relatively short period of time? (This is not a rhetorical question, I am generally interested in learning here...)

pja5529
3309
Points
pja5529 03/27/14 - 08:20 am
10
2
Slowrider

For starters Greenville has more support from its citizens regarding downtown. A lot of people in Augusta don't realized the stronger the downtown area is, the better for the whole area and are resentful of anything done downtown.

justthefacts
34792
Points
justthefacts 03/27/14 - 08:25 am
5
4
pga

The people in South Augusta are only resentful because they are ignored. At least that is my take from reading this comments section. They don't feel they are getting enough juice from the squeeze.

nocnoc
69145
Points
nocnoc 03/27/14 - 08:34 am
4
2
Greenville Model

Here are conceptual ideas and projects already underway

http://www.greenvillesc.gov/EconDev/Downtown/DowntownProjects.aspx

http://www.heartofgreenville.com/why-downtown.php

http://www.wyff4.com/Huge-Downtown-Project-Unveiled/6141284

BUT
The problem with ARC vs. Greenville is Economics, income, Demographics, skilled labor force, spendable income and many others area needed to support such a project.

SOME FACTS
Greenville, SC
http://www.city-data.com/city/Greenville-South-Carolina.html

VERSES

ARC, Ga
http://www.city-data.com/city/Augusta-Georgia.html

For this to happen here given how much "Special Projects" and waste that has occurred over 40 years with little though to a 10+ year growth plan. For ARC to do something like Greenville, Sc. would require the voters agree to on a 10+ year master plan with Rotating INDEPENDENT ANNUAL AUDIT DISCLOSURES conducted.

It would also require a richer tax and property base.

deestafford
46871
Points
deestafford 03/27/14 - 08:36 am
5
3
One of the first things people hear about Augusta is...

One of the first things people hear about Augusta is how disfunctional the commission is.

I would imagine if one looked at the governments of Greenville and Columbus one would see much smarter, more forward looking, and less bickering people sitting in the seats of city government.

I don't see this being corrected anytime in the future as the number of people riding in the wagon rather than pulling it increases and voter-hungry cow-towers cater to them.

Riverman1
120335
Points
Riverman1 03/27/14 - 08:37 am
6
3
Slowrider, good question. I

Slowrider, good question. I do believe large metro areas want a successful downtown part of town to give that urban feel. Of course the Greenville metro area is much larger than Augusta's and that's part of it. The demographics of Greenville are also different than Augusta. Reading about Greenville, they did the usual urban renewal efforts. An old industrial area was turned into an arts area. Once they got things going it kind of snow balled.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
19157
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 03/27/14 - 08:45 am
6
2
Difference

Greenville isn't doing a one time thing, they are planning maintenance and security. ARC just spends a lot to put it there but forgets maintenance and security, then several years or decades later they spend a lot of money again, if they can find the money!

Brad Owens
5224
Points
Brad Owens 03/27/14 - 08:53 am
7
1
Hmmmmm

FACTS; "Census data show that 1,756 more people left Richmond County than moved to the area last year..."

“I see this as sort of a blip on the radar,” Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said of the data.." DEFINITION? A occurrence that only happens momentarily..

Copenhaver .... (said) that before he took office, projections showed Augusta was losing population and as a result, its tax base. “You have to have a team working on it, but trend lines can be moved and I believe we have done that here in Augusta,” FACT, this is not a momentary occurrence, it was happening eight years ago when he entered office and is still happening.

Young Fred
25458
Points
Young Fred 03/27/14 - 08:56 am
4
3
nocnoc @07:58 am

you must have missed the article about poll workers - I quote:

"It takes a blend of social and technical skills and endurance to work a polling place"

Your concerns are for naught, all is in very capable hands.

nocnoc
69145
Points
nocnoc 03/27/14 - 09:02 am
4
1
South Augusta ignored feeling.

The last time I checked the figures.
Paid 2012 Real Estate Taxes
(any one have the 2013 figures yet?)

DISTRICT Approx AMT.
1 $15m
2 $9m
3 $23m
4 $9m
5 $12m
6 $9m
7 $21m
8 $9m

Look up the ARC District map and do the math is the South side getting it share?

http://www.augustaga.gov/524/Maps

Now note, how it is NOT just district 6 & 8, it includes other districts also.
We have other Districts claiming The Paper Mills Property Tax revenue and Airport related Revenue way out here on the South South also.

So what looks like $18+M is closer to $40+M, when the Gordon/25 Hwy to Ft. Gordon line is used.

Which is about 1/3 of 2012 ARC Collected Property tax revenue

Now does anyone still think the SouthSide is not being ignored a little?

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