Douglas and Bayfield County leaders react to growth in the census

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2020 was quite the year. But it did equal a 3% growth in Wisconsin, now that the census numbers are in.

Douglas County saw growth in the southern portion. Board Chair Mark Liebaert estimates it’s because during COVID, people decided to stay put and turn seasonal cabins into permanent homes.

They also saw a boost in new construction, which is good for the tax base. "Zoning had another banner year this year, and they had a record year last year too. We are seeing permits rise, and people are developing their properties to be more livable," he said.

Sales tax revenue is also up. But there are some growing pains they are working on, like more people who need more services, but without a bigger budget.

Over in Bayfield County, they saw an 8% increase. County Administrator Mark Abeles-Allison said, "That means an additional 1,206 residents. We’re a rural county, so that amounts to about one extra person per square mile."

They credit broadband for being a main reason people are relocating, and then telecommuting.

Rob Schierman, Planning and Zoning Director, added, "There’s been a big increase in construction activity for the past two years, definitely since COVID happened, with people trying to social distance. Still, I think it’s important Bayfield County remains a desirable location, and we’ve been able to enforce the zoning ordinances over the years."

Abeles-Allison also credits an increase in medical services, as a draw for people to move there.