The County’s New and Not Improved Population Projections

When the Census Bureau make projections, it always shows high, medium and low projections.

That results in a large range for their forecasts, a large margin for error.

Readers of this blog know that the entire justification given by the County for their $135 million plan to expand Randall Road is that the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) projects population is going to boom again in McHenry County, just like it’s the 1980s.

Keep in mind this is the SOLE basis for the project, despite the fact that the County’s own numbers show traffic on that portion of Randall Road has not increased in ten years.

Traffic counts on Randall Road.

Traffic counts on Randall Road.

Unfortunately, CMAP’s projections were off.

A lot.

They didn’t even get the SIGN right, saying population was increasing when it was actually decreasing.

Well, CMAP has released its revised population projections for the six county metropolitan area. (GO TO 2040/Socioeconomic Forecast Update).

Did they change their forecast rates of growth?

Did they change their methodology?


Note the comment period has closed. (My apologies for not having found this before.)

The key language is in the second paragraph of the Introduction:

“It should be noted that this adjusted forecast does not revisit original forecast methodology or assumptions; rather, it starts with the GO TO 2040 forecast as a starting point, and then corrects for the base-year error by applying the forecasted increase to the new (actual) 2010 base.”

In other words, despite the fact that their projections for 2010 were radically incorrect, and despite growth projections that are radically at odds with both national projections and McHenry County’s history over the last 24 years, CMAP didn’t change a thing except their “starting number”–the 2010 population–even though the starting number shows their model was incredibly optimistic.

This continues CMAP’s lousy track record.

The 1995 projection in the County 2010 Transportation Plan, made by CMAP’s predecessor, NIPC, was off by 22%.

CMAP’s 2007 forecast of McHenry County’s population was off by more than 7% over just a three-year time frame.

The Census Bureau, a much larger and more sophisticated agency than CMAP, shows more humility in their projections.

The Census Bureau shows high, medium and low projections, which results in a large range for their forecasts, a large margin for error.

CMAP declines to provide such information.

In December 2012, the Census Bureau lowered the national forecast rate it had made only four years earlier.

Their former projected annual growth rate was 0.88%; the new projected annual growth rate is 0.65%. (And Illinois is growing slower than the national average with 50% of its residents wanting to leave the state.)

That tiny change resulted in a difference in projected population of over 39 million, a full 9% lower than the earlier projection.

Is CMAP projecting an annual growth rate of 0.65%?

No, the CMAP forecast underlying the Randall Road project continues to project that population in McHenry County will increase by 2% per year, or more than three times the rate the Census Bureau projects the national population will grow.

In fact, CMAP’s projections indicate an annual growth rate between 2020 and 2030 over 3.0% per year!

Census figures in McHenry County.  Note that Randall Road is in Algonquin Township, which lost 12,000 people between 2007 and 2010.

Census figures in McHenry County. Note that Randall Road is in Algonquin Township, which lost 12,000 people between 2007 and 2010.  These are printed in the McHenry County Yearbook, which can be obtained from the County Clerk.

Given that population has actually declined in McHenry County, and given that CMAP has a terrible track record, and given that they continue to project population growing at a multiple of the national rate, is it logical to spend $135 million TODAY to fix problems based on these projections?

Or is it more logical to say,

Population is down.

Clearly we are not going to grow rapidly for at least the next few years.

So we have lots of time to see what happens before we commit taxpayer dollars.

We can afford to wait and see what facts emerge.

Make your own decision and then call your county board members and tell them what YOU think.

They’re easy to find. Just click here.


The County’s New and Not Improved Population Projections — 15 Comments

  1. Nice, Cal.

    I wonder why our elected officials didn’t ferret any of this out before placing our livelihoods on the line so gaily.

  2. CMAP projects a population for Lake in the Hills that is larger than will fit within the corporate boundaries.

    It is a simple straight line extrapolation of a bogus growth rate that takes zero account of physical reality.

  3. in my family 2 already moved out of the state and the last 2 (myself and wife) will be moving in a few years somewhere more affordable.

  4. Certainly everyone agrees that the County ought to bet $135 million of the taxpayers’ money on expanding Randall Road because of this wacky projection instead of waiting and seeing what happens in a couple years, right?

    Doesn’t that make much more sense than waiting?

  5. Just for grins I downloaded CMAP’s new projection spreadsheet.

    They previously projected Crystal Lake’s population in 2010 to be 51,236.

    The actual Census Bureau number 2013: 40,388.

    So they were only 27% too high!

  6. Cindy, your reference to :”why our elected officials” infers that “elected officials” actually develop plans and have the ability to think plus that they actually read all the crap fed to them by staff.

    Peter Austin runs this County – not Tina Hill.

    Joe Korpalski and his fellow engineers run the Transportation Dept., NOT Anna Mae Miller.

    The County Budget is put together by Department Managers and finalized by Peter Austin.

    Any Board member who dares question any Budget item is ostracized by staff and ridiculed by fellow “elected” Board members.

    Until people with a backbone and a brain they are willing to use step forward to run for office, it will get worse and worse.

    Just look at D.C. and Springfield – the whole damn mess is run by bureaucrats!!

  7. Even the members of the Transportation Committee can simply go to:

    The current estimate by U.S. Census shows that McHenry County has LOST population since the last census!!!

    Mind you, this is the same place you would have been told that the population of McHenry County was over 320,000 before the last census.

    The County population was 308,860 at the 2010 Census and currently estimated to be 307,409.

    Personally I judge our current population growth trend based on the empty houses all around AND all of the empty factories and stores.

  8. We need bodies there in public meetings to oppose this (and other awful) proposals.

    Something doesn’t seem right.

    I could put my 9 yr. old nephew in place of any of these “elected county board officials” and somehow HE WOULD SEE, THIS JUST ISN”T RIGHT!

    I have to laugh at Democrat County Board member Nick Chirikos telling someone “This isn’t going to raise taxes, it’s going to be state funded thru gas tax! Is he THAT dumb or does he think voters are the dumb ones?

    Join to get on their email list. We are going to have to rally at County Board meetings to fight this!

    We need to clear out all the people on the board who want to continue to run things like this!

  9. With elected officials like these – who needs enemies!?

    No wonder people are leaving this county in droves.

    We’re 25th highest in owner occupied property taxes in the WHOLE COUNTRY!!! (out of 3144 counties, McHenry County is 25th!)

    Look around.

    Doesn’t this seem unreasonable and quite fishy?

  10. Taxed2?

    Gee, I feel honored. I really get it when you say to look around.

    When the last tax bill came out, I did exactly that.

    I looked up the tax bills for every house on my block.

    I found that although I own neither the most expensive, nor the nicest house on the block; my taxes were way above everyone else’s my a large margin.

    (I am starting to think that that has a lot to do with my speaking out on issues like this.)

  11. Cindy, aren’t there laws to prevent exactly that kind of practice?

    Have you asked them to re-assess your property?

  12. Cindy, your taxes are proportional to your assessment.

    If you do not have the most expensive house but you have the highest taxes, you are assessed disproportionately.

    When was the last time you appealed your assessment?

  13. More demonstrative evidence we live in a dying state…………

    Even the First Family has no plans to return to Illinois after the 8 year national catastrophe (not to be confused w/ George Dubya Bush, the Lesser’s, 8 year national catastrophe), the place from whence they slithered.

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