Eagle-eyed Poulsbo resident catches error in population numbers
By JENNIFER MORRIS
North Kitsap Herald Reporter
January 23, 2009 · 12:49 PM
POULSBO — The watchful eye of a local resident saved the city of Poulsbo from potentially losing state and federal funding.
Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade publicly thanked Jan Wold Wednesday for helping to catch a numbers error that reflects back in funding dollars for the city each year. The numbers, which relate to housing and help the state determine a city’s population, had been misreported since 2001, Wold said. She notified the city of the error and testified as such at recent city council meetings.
According to her calculations, between 2001 and 2008 the city has reported below its actual building rate, losing out on more than $100,000 in that time. For each city resident represented in those numbers, the city receives $35, she said.
“Thanks to Jan (Wold) we did an actual hand count,” said Quade. “There may be some human error, but I don’t think that this was ever intentional that this was underreported.”
City Planning Director Barry Berezowsky said Wold’s figures led city staffers to return to building permit archives and review what was there. They found that some years the city underreported occupancy while it over-reported in others. Berezowsky said staffers found a net total of 330 underreported permits since 2000. The trouble, he explained, stemmed from shifts in computer software or tricky instances in which a multifamily housing structure had only one permit.
Berezowsky said Wold’s estimation of what the error has cost the city is most likely off, due simply to the complicated methodology of collecting the data. Duplexes and triplexes, senior housing and vacancies are all examples of ways data collection can easily be thrown off course.
“That doesn’t say that her number is not close,” he added. “And frankly, I don’t know that it’s relevant.”
That’s because the funding not received in past years can’t be collected now. There’s no looking back to gain what was lost, but the city can be sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We now probably have as accurate of a database as humanly possible” along with a redundant system to be sure to catch mistakes, he said.
Wold, who has experience in land use planning, has spent much of the last two years researching the city’s planning and development. She has reported Poulsbo’s growth rate, at six times highter than that of Port Orchard, is setting the city on the fast track to doubling its target population growth — putting it in danger of a flooded housing market, decreased land values and the loss of wildlife areas. The miscalculated numbers tie into her warning.
Berezwosky said the department doesn’t agree with her findings there, and said Poulsbo has reached less than 20 percent of its allocated population.
But, “I do appreciate the fact that she has an interest,” he added. “If more good like that happens from his discussion, then I’m all for it.”Contact North Kitsap Herald Reporter Jennifer Morris at email@example.com or 360-779-4464.