County's population grows by 6.6 percent

BELLEFONTE — While Pennsylvania’s population only grew 1.2 percent between 2000 and 2007, Centre County saw its number of residents increase 6.6 percent, according to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The estimates, released Thursday by the Pennsylvania State Data Center, came up during the news conference normally held prior to the weekly Board of Commissioners meeting.

Chairman Jon Eich said the numbers show where the county’s tax base will grow. Halfmoon Township saw its population increase about 25 percent, from 2,357 residents to 2,946.

That means one in every four residents is new to the township, Eich said.

Commissioner Steve Dershem said the numbers show the impact of growth on Spring, Walker and Halfmoon townships, which haven’t seen that type of growth in the past and may not have the police services, sewer lines and other infrastructure in place.

“That’s going to be the real challenge for some of these outlying communities that traditionally don’t have the resources or have the infrastructure in place,” Dershem said.

He said some municipalities that now rely on state police may have to look at regional or local police services if they continue to grow at the same rate.

According to the Census estimates, Centre County’s population was 144,658 as of July 1, 2007. Walker Township wasn’t far behind Halfmoon Township in the percentage increase in population, growing 22 percent since 2000. Ferguson, Marion, Patton and Spring townships also saw population growth of more than 10 percent.

Eich said if the county’s population passes 145,000 residents in the 2010 census, it will go from a 5th class to a 4th class county.

“The odds of us getting to 145 in the next three years are very good,” Eich said.

Dershem said a county’s class and population are taken into consideration when the county is being considered for grants and state funding.

Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648.