By Ted Shorack • The Bulletin

The populations of Bend and other Central Oregon cities are continuing to outpace growth in most other cities around the state.

The U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates today that place Bend as the seventh-fastest growing city in Oregon. The city’s population as of July was estimated to be 87,014, a 3.4 percent increase from 2014.

Sisters ranked fourth in the state for population increase. The Census Bureau estimates the city grew to 2,472 in 2015, about 5.4 percent higher than 2014.

Millersburg, which is about 20 miles south of Salem, grew by 7.8 percent, faster than any other city in the state, according to the population estimates.

Redmond, Prineville and La Pine have estimated populations that place them in the top 25 of fastest-growing cities in the state. Madras ranked 57th.

The estimates for Bend show the population has increased by 13.5 percent since 2010, when the last nationwide census count was conducted. The next will be in 2020.

Damian Syrnyk, a senior planner in the city of Bend’s Growth Management Department, said the city had expected to reach about 91,000 residents by 2015 based on a population forecast 10 years ago.

“Growth is picking up but hasn’t reached where we thought it might be based on our forecast,” Syrnyk said.

The reason for the overestimate is likely the Great Recession, which officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. The city has used the forecast figure to help with long-range planning and development.

“It hasn’t been so different that we’re spending money that we don’t need to,” Syrnyk said about matching population growth with infrastructure needs.

The Population Research Center at Portland State University also provides population estimates for cities and counties in Oregon. The center’s estimate for Bend in 2015 was 81,310, much lower than what the Census Bureau calculated.

Risa Proehl, the population estimates program manager at the center, said the Census Bureau and center use similar, but different, data sets. One of the distinctions, Proehl said, is the Census Bureau puts more emphasis on the economic recovery since the Great Recession in projecting population increases.

“We estimated a more gradual recovery,” said Proehl.

The center produced a population forecast in June for Deschutes County and its four cities. The forecast lists Bend’s population at 85,737 in 2015. But Proehl explained that the forecast includes parts of the urban growth boundary and other nearby unincorporated areas in addition to the population within the city limits.

The Bend City Council agreed with a recommended urban growth boundary expansion plan last month. The expansion and potential inclusion of about 2,000 more acres will undergo public hearings this summer before it can be approved and sent to the state for review. A proposal to expand by 8,000 acres in 2010 was rejected by the state.

According to the Census Bureau, Georgetown, Texas, is the fastest-growing city in the United States with 50,000 people or more. The city is part of the Austin-Round Rock metro area. Texas had five of the 11 fastest-growing cities in the country based on 2015 population estimates.

Hillsboro, west of Portland, was one of seven cities in the country to surpass 100,000 people in 2015, according to the Census Bureau. The city population was estimated to be 99,439 in 2014 and 102,347 in 2015.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820,

tshorack@bendbulletin.com

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