Maricopa has become Pinal County’s largest incorporated municipality, according to figures released in August by the U.S. Census Bureau. But Casa Grande disputes the results.
In Maricopa, the city’s population expanded by 33.7% from the 2010 census through 202, for a total of 58,125 residents, the bureau said. Casa Grande saw 10.5% growth during the decade for a total of 53,658.
Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said growth appears to be zooming past the census’ number. “We believe that already now, we’re starting to push 65,000,” he said.
He added that the federal dollars that come with a higher population will help build the infrastructure needed to serve Maricopa residents, “but what’s really important to me is the way it speaks to new development, new businesses looking to move here new headquarters.
“They’re looking for people who are qualified and Maricopa is full of those folks, so that’s where I see the bigger rate of return, is the businesses that will locate because we now have the numbers that they’re looking for.”
Casa Grande City Manager Larry Rains said he was grateful to all the residents who participated, but officials said the census fell short of capturing all of it: “We believe the pandemic did have some bearing on the final results. Based purely on the new housing starts that transpired in Casa Grande over the past decade, it was anticipated that the population count would have been in the high 50,000 range.” Many seasonal residents were likely counted elsewhere, he added.
Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland added, “We are looking at our options to appeal and/or potentially recount, which is very expensive and would be our last option. No decision has been made as the numbers are not official yet.”
The unincorporated San Tan Valley just missed the 100,000-person mark.
San Tan Valley’s population expanded by 23%, the census said. Other high-growth areas include Saddlebrooke at 30.8%, Gold Canyon at 12%, and Coolidge at 11.8%. Two cities that have a small portion of their land area in Pinal County grew by even more: Queen Creek by 125% and Marana at 45%.
The Aug. 12 census figures only included data for communities of 5,000 people or more. Two areas above this threshold reportedly shrank in size over the decade, Eloy and Arizona City.
The figures said the county as a whole grew by 13.2% to reach a population of 425,264, a healthy rate but significantly below the 462,789 estimated by the Census Bureau in 2019.