Walworth County population rises by 10 percent

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Ted Sullivan
September 17, 2008
— People continue to migrate to Walworth County for its small-town nature and proximity to large cities, pushing the county’s population to about 101,315 this year.

About 9,302 more residents, a 10 percent increase, live in the county this year compared to the 2000 census, which indicated the population was 92,013, the state Department of Administration reported.

Walworth County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, said Donald Harrier, chief of demographic services for the department.

People in metropolitan areas are moving farther from large cities and traditional suburbs into places such as Walworth County, he said.

The county’s proximity to Milwaukee and Chicago has helped its boom, much like the Wisconsin counties neighboring Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., have grown, Harrier said.

“Counties that are adjacent to the metropolitan counties are growing the fastest,” Harrier said.

The appreciation for lakes, recreation and rural life has drawn people to the area, said Bill Stauber, a planner with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

“It has the attraction of the natural resources and the rural atmosphere,” Stauber said.

People also enjoy Walworth County’s friendly, small towns with solid schools, said Dave Bretl, the county administrator.

“I think it’s recognized as a very attractive place to live,” Bretl said.

Homes in Walworth County are more affordable than in Milwaukee and Chicago and their suburbs, Bretl said.

“That’s the American dream—to get a house and some land—and people are pursuing that,” he said.

Population growth creates a challenge for county government, Bretl said.

It brings a need for more services, influences the budget and makes it difficult to keep taxes down, he said.

The influx of people also presents the challenge of allowing growth while preserving the community, making planning and zoning even more important, Stauber said.

The county and 13 of its municipalities are working to adopt a state-mandated Smart Growth Plan, he said.

The long-term prediction is that Walworth County will continue to grow, but other factors could influence that trend, Bretl said.

If people can’t sell a home in this sluggish real estate market or they refuse to commute because of record-high gas prices, the county’s population growth could stall, he said.

The administration department’s population data is gathered from tax files, housing data, school enrollment and other sources, Harrier said. The estimates are done every two years when the U.S. Census Bureau is not collecting information.


The latest Walworth County population estimates by the Wisconsin Department of Administration:

City of Whitewater: 11,260

City of Elkhorn: 8,953

City of Delavan: 8,440

City of Lake Geneva: 7,661

Bloomfield Township: 6,357

Geneva Township: 5,159

Delavan Township: 4,887

Village of East Troy: 4,172

East Troy Township: 3,953

Sugar Creek Township: 3,802

Lyons Township: 3,743

Village of Genoa City: 2,758

Village of Williams Bay: 2,688

Village of Walworth: 2,640

La Grange Township: 2,587

Troy Township: 2,419

Linn Township: 2,389

Spring Prairie Township: 2,194

La Fayette Township: 1,992

Richmond Township: 1,973

Darien Township: 1,971

Village of Fontana: 1,874

Walworth Township: 1,794

Village of Darien: 1,640

Village of Sharon: 1,535

Whitewater Township: 1,491

Sharon Township: 927

Village of Mukwonago: 56

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