growth in the bluegrass

Lexington grows, but many nearby counties have higher rates

gkocher1@herald-leader.comMarch 18, 2011 

Fayette and three adjacent counties saw double-digit population growth during the past decade, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday.

Scott County, home of the Toyota plant at Georgetown, saw the biggest increase in the inner Bluegrass, with 40.7 percent growth since 2000. Scott was second in Kentucky only to Spencer County, which saw its head count grow by 43.6 percent.

Trouble is, the soured economy means Scott County revenues have declined during the last three years by 28 percent, Judge-Executive George Lusby said.

"That creates major issues because you've still got to provide the services," Lusby said.

Fortunately, the county has a reserve of $18 million from which to draw and fill in the budget shortfall, "but you can only go to the reserve so much," Lusby said.

Jessamine and Madison counties, meanwhile, ranked sixth and 10th in population increases in Kentucky during the last decade.

Jessamine County gained 8,971 residents, for a 22.6 percent growth in the past 10 years. That rate was down from 1990 to 2000, when Jessamine grew by 28 percent.

Jessamine Judge-Executive Neal Cassity said he was somewhat relieved to see slower growth, which will perhaps help the county keep up with services. Fortunately, the addition of Brannon Crossing shopping center in northern Nicholasville has added jobs and helped county revenues "keep up the pace," Cassity said.

Madison County grew by 14.9 percent since 2000. Judge-Executive Kent Clark said the county has been fueled by jobs coming to new or expanding plants in Richmond, the chemical demilitarization plant under construction at Blue Grass Army Depot, Eastern Kentucky University and a new shopping center off Interstate 75.

"If you want to work, there's a job here for you," Clark said.

Fayette County grew by 11.6 percent, which means the city added 30,802 people from 2000 to 2010. Lexington's population is 295,803, making it nearly as large as Cincinnati, which has 296,943 people, although surrounding Hamilton County, Ohio, remains much larger.

"Lexington is proud to be Lexington. No comparison needed," Mayor Jim Gray said in a statement through city spokeswoman Susan Straub.

"The growth reflected in this count demonstrates the importance of good planning, creation of new jobs and economic development," Gray added.

Bourbon, Clark, Franklin, and Woodford counties all grew in the single digits.

Elsewhere in Central Kentucky, Montgomery County grew by 15 percent, Garrard County by 13.1 percent, and Anderson County by 10.7 percent.

Computer-assisted reporting coordinator Linda J. Johnson contributed to this story.

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