By Kevin Boneske
HOBART – The latest population estimate shows the Village of Hobart has exceeded 10,000 people, Village Administrator Aaron Kramer reported to the Hobart village board Tuesday, Sept. 1.
Kramer said the estimated population of 10,454 as of Jan. 1 includes the biggest annual increase in both number of residents (855) and percentage (8.9) in the village since annual records of estimated population were kept in 1996.
He said figures from the state Department of Administration use data from building permits, income tax returns, vehicle registrations, etc., to make population estimates.
Kramer said Hobart’s population includes about 7,700 people who are of voting age, 18 and older, “raising the specter that you need to look at two polling places sooner than later due to the increase.”
“The village has grown 69 percent since the last census (in 2010 with 6,182 residents), 105 percent since the beginning of the century (in 2000 with 5,090 residents) and 150 percent since the 1990 census (with 4,176 residents),” he said.
When the state did population projections seven years ago going out to 2040, Kramer said the projected population for Hobart in 2020 was 8,585, about 2,000 below the current estimate.
“We’re at about (in population) where they thought we’d be in 2028-29,” he said.
Kramer said it would be reasonable to assume Hobart will exceed 11,000 people in 2021 with new developments taking place in the village.
“There’ll probably be one more year of an estimate from the DOA, and then we’ll get an official census number, and that will reset everything,” he said.
Given the growth in village residents, Kramer said he has been asked about changing the population number on the signs entering Hobart.
“I think we can, but we’ve got to pay for them, though,” he said. “If we wait for the census, I don’t think we have to pay for them. You certainly see they’re fairly obsolete (with the population number).”
Though the village experienced long lines at its only polling place at St. Joseph’s Church during the last November general election in 2018, Village Clerk-Treasurer Erica Berger said she doesn’t expect that will happen this November with people concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Berger said 2,000 voters already applied for absentee ballots as of the beginning of September.
“I’m only anticipating more (absentee ballot requests) as the months progress,” she said. “In April (for the spring general election when there was also a presidential primary on the ballot), we only had 337 people show up (at the polls). Normally, for a presidential primary, it’s a couple thousand.”
Kramer said the “next big election that will cause us an extreme headache” could be the November 2022 general election when there will be a gubernatorial race.
Berger said new technology the village has implemented will make handling the polls on Election Day not as difficult as the last gubernatorial election in November 2018.
Storm water projects
In other action, the board approved two storm water management projects on Lexington Court and Ponce De Leon Boulevard with the contract awarded to DDS (Northeast Pipe) for $24,900, with funding coming out of the village’s storm water fund.
The board’s motion also calls for not commencing with the projects until the required easements are granted by the necessary private property owners, and not considering any similar storm water improvement projects until village staff has presented an ordinance or policy related to the funding of similar projects in the future.
Kramer said storm water work on private property raises the question of what is the village’s role to make improvements on private property versus public property.
“As far as the ordinance, I think what we’re trying to avoid is all of us being in an uncomfortable position of having to rule on each case with no guidance, no policy, no ordinance, and it becomes potentially political,” he said.
In other news
Kramer said the village has been receiving applications for the utility clerk position the board created last month, while a recommendation on who to hire will be considered in closed session at the board’s Sept. 15 meeting.
He said applications from citizens interested in being on the newly-created Parks and Recreation Committee are also being received for possible appointment by the board president.