The total population at Fort Riley increased by 180 people from 2018 to 2019.

Ben Van Becelaere, director of the base’s plans, analysis and integration office, presented this information Monday to area leaders during an intergovernmental luncheon. Local government officials meet monthly to discuss common issues.

Fort Riley’s 2019 population was 67,267 people, which is up from 2018’s population of 67,087. That is an increase of 0.2%.

“Very flat on population,” Van Becelaere said. “We stayed about the same, which is good. We didn’t go down, but we went up just slightly.”

Officials collected population data from Oct 1, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2019.

In 2019, Fort Riley had 14,849 members in the military, up from 14,527 in 2018. That is an increase of 2%, or 322 people.

Veteran numbers at Fort Riley also went up, from 25,047 in 2018 to 25,829 in 2019. That is an increase of 3% or 782 people.

However, the total number of family members at Fort Riley dropped from 2018 to 2019.

In 2018, Fort Riley had 16,719 total family members, but only 15,652 in 2019. That is a decrease of about 6%.

Van Becelaere said the dip is in part because some people returned to their hometowns while a family member was deployed overseas.

He also said lower-ranked members of the military are not as likely to have families as much as higher ranking members of the military.

“Some of that is simply just the lessening of the higher-ranking military folks,” he said.

Van Becelaere said this is not a cause for concern this year, but Fort Riley plans to monitor this.

“And so our hope is that is just normalizing to the point where right now we’re pretty much in a steady state,” Van Becelaere said. “(If we) see that go down again, we need to take another look at that and see if something more is going on there.”

Overall, Van Becelaere said this is all normal fluctuation for the population at Fort Riley.

The total direct economic impact Fort Riley has on the Flint Hills region was $1.75 billion in 2019, which is up from 2018’s value of $1.73 billion. That is an increase of about 1%.

“That has stayed consistent for several years,” Van Becelaere said. “And this year it remained relatively flat.”

2020 Census

The U.S. Census Bureau is looking to hire seven people in Riley County who speak Mandarin.

Emily Kelley, program supervisor for the U.S. Census in Kansas and Oklahoma, urged officials at the luncheon to engage the community as April 1, the official Census Day, inches closer.

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau gathers population data, which is used to determine funding for federal Pell Grant programs, special education grants and temporary assistance for needy families, among other initiatives, Kelley said.

House Bill 2498

Riley County commissioners are waiting to see when the Kansas’ House Committee on Taxation will host a hearing on House Bill 2498, which aims to protect property tax revenue for local governmental entities by removing an argument for lowering property valuations.

Usha Reddi, mayor of Manhattan, asked Riley County counselor Clancy Holeman if he knew when the committee plans to host a hearing on the bill. Holeman said he was not sure when it will happen.

Rep. Tom Phillips, R-Manhattan, introduced the bill to the Kansas Legislature in last month after Holeman and Riley County appraiser Greg McHenry approached Phillips about the idea.