Foreshadowing the 2020 count, future funding for Peoria

A construction crew digs up asphalt along 103rd Avenue between Northern and Olive avenues. Peoria has seen population grow about 2.4% from 2017 to 2018, according to the newest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. [Jacob Stanek/Independent Newsmedia]

Census: Growth up 2.4% from 2017

By Philip Haldiman
Independent Newsmedia

Peoria’s growth may have slowed down but, the city remains one of the fastest growing in the state, according to fresh data provided by the United States Census Bureau.

Peoria’s population increased by 4,067 people in 2018, a 2.4% increase from 2017 and a 11.2% jump from  2010, giving it the 18th highest year-over-year increase in Arizona.

The average population percentage growth among Arizona’s 92 cities and towns was 1.52% over the year.

Peoria’s population is 172,259, according to the newest report.

The city’s growth is a component of the influx of people in the last decade who have moved to Maricopa County, which has led the country for three years in a row, and maintains its rank as the fourth most populous county in the United States, with a population of about 4.4 million.

The most recent numbers foreshadow the Census Bureau’s next 10-year update in 2020, which determines how Arizona municipalities will divvy up the state-shared funding determined by the decade count.

State-shared revenues make up about 30% of Peoria’s General Fund revenues, according to the city’s Finance and Budget Department.

To ensure an accurate count, Peoria will be using a committee comprised of a cross-section of the community including representatives from the faith-based community, businesses, school district, community leaders, HOAs, nonprofits and others.

Planning Director Chris Jacques said committee members will serve as ambassadors and advisors assisting the city and Census Bureau in effectively getting the word out to the community, with specific attention to traditionally hard-to-count areas of the population. Activities and outreach events will be ramping up over the next year leading through Census Day 2020.

Mr. Jacques said if a city is under-counted, it will get less than its fair share.

“It is critically important that all Peoria citizens be counted,” Mr. Jacques said.

Peoria has seen explosive growth over the last decade, particularly north of Bell Road up to Lake Pleasant where annexations from Maricopa County in the late 1980s and early 1990s have resulted in a housing boom that is now starting to see increased commercial development.

Half the population is located south of Bell Road and half is located north of Bell Road where the majority of the city’s growth is expected in the coming years.

Mr. Jacques said Peoria has been among the top tier of Valley cities in terms of single-family residential permits over the last few years with about 90% of them issued in two growth areas: the Vistancia area and the Lake Pleasant Parkway/Happy Valley area.

“With improved access — Loop 303 and widened Happy Valley — these areas are within the commute shed of the Deer Valley/Norterra job center along the I-17 corridor,” he said. “Moreover, with quality schools, stable governance and access to open space and recreation, this area continues to attract new residents.”


A drawback to growth?

But cities face both opportunities and challenges from rapid population growth, said Ken Strobeck, executive director of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns.

“It’s a mixed blessing. It’s great to have that many people moving here and it shows the vitality of this area,” Mr. Strobeck said. “But it’s also a challenge in meeting the services that those new residents demand.”

The Peoria Unified School District has experienced difficulty keeping up with the growth, redistricting in 2017 to adjust for school overcrowding. Capacity remains an issue as the district saw two failed bonds — which would have funded new schools — in the last four years. The majority of funds for new schools come from the state or voter approved bonds.

Mr. Strobeck said adding new households brings some new revenue, but with more residents, cities see heavier burdens on their facilities and services. Streets, water supply, wastewater treatment, public services and first responders are all areas impacted by a larger population.

“I think the obvious challenge is finding housing for all those folks that are moving in and keeping it in the affordable range, as well as the impact that all the additional population has on infrastructure,” Mr. Strobeck said.

Although cities are funded based on the decade Census count, school districts are funded largely through the state budget process.

The municipality of Peoria deals with growth through its annual budget cycle.

Mr. Jacques said the city monitors the rate, scale and trajectory of growth, informing the development of Peoria’s capital improvement program, which identifies new infrastructure projects over a 10-year period.

“This plan identifies the capital improvement project and the funding source,” Mr. Jacques said. “Each year, the 10-year CIP is updated through the budget process. Additionally, the city actively maintains a General Plan and Circulation Map which is periodically adjusted to respond to changing trends.”


A local business boon

From a business perspective, rapid growth is absolutely fantastic, said Peoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Guy Erikson.

“As more and more people move into our city, businesses throughout Peoria are seeing strong increases in their sales and services. This, in-turn, is driving an increase in job opportunities for anyone currently looking for work or interested in changing jobs,” he said.

“The reports of strong business growth are spreading to other businesses looking to expand and local entrepreneurs who have always wanted to start a business of their own who feel now would be the right time to make that happen.”

Nationally, the city of Buckeye ranked No. 1 on the list of fastest-growing large cities in the U.S., considering percentage of population increase in municipalities with 50,000 or more residents from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018.

Buckeye, which increased by 8.5% over the period studied, is followed on the list by New Braunfels, Texas, which notched a 7.2% increase. Seven of the top 15 cities for percentage growth this year are in Texas.

The census data revealed the remaining top 10 fastest growing Arizona cities as Queen Creek, Wickenburg, Marana, Litchfield Park, city of Maricopa, Parker, Goodyear, Tempe and Sierra Vista, ranging from an 8.2% annual increase for second place Queen Creek down to 3.3% growth rate in Sierra Vista.

Phoenix also topped the bureau’s list of large cities for the greatest numerical population increase, with 25,288 new residents counted during the study period.

This raised the city’s total to nearly 1.7 million residents, to place fifth on the list of the nation’s most populous cities, following New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. This puts Phoenix firmly ahead of Philadelphia, which has nearly 1.6 million citizens.

The remaining top five cities for numerical growth were: San Antonio, Texas (20,824); Fort Worth, Texas (19,552); Seattle, Wash. (15,354); and Charlotte, N.C. (13,151).

Editor’s note: News Editor Matt Roy contributed to this report.

Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697 or



The population annually over the last eight years in Peoria, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
2010: 154,891
2011: 155,050
2012: 155,352
2013: 156,371
2014: 157,780
2015: 160,432
2016: 164,212
2017: 168,192
2018: 172,259
Change 2010-18: 11.20%
Change 2017-18: 2.40%

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.