The city's population is steadily graying, so it would be wise to keep city planning up to date in response to this demographic shift, officials recommended Tuesday night.
That's one of the main bullet points city commissioners heard during a ranging presentation on planning and economic development.
Rather than be alarmed by age- or income-based numbers, Economic Development Manager Karen Lemmons and Rodney Chatman, the city's urban planner, urged commissioner to view them as helpful tools for preparing for the future.
"We have to have a positive outlook for our city both in the short term and the long term," Chatman said.
The city's total population, according to 2010 U.S. Census data, is nearly 23,500, up from about 21,000 in 2000. Multiple graphics from Lemmons and Chatman provided snapshots of the city's 10-year growth pattern.
As for Pinellas County, it and Monroe County, which includes Key West, were the only two counties in the state to lose residents during the past decade.
The majority of the city's 10-year increases population came from individuals older than 45. Within that demographic range, only the 70-74 age group experienced a population decrease. That's in comparison with the four age groups from 0-44, which saw their numbers decline.
Another change in the Tarpon Springs population is a shrinking size of typical households.
Based on these numbers, Chatman and Lemmons told city officials to expect a further demand for multifamily residential rental housing, discount retail stores and assisted-living facilities.
If the city wants to reverse the graying trend, it should do more to promote the creation of jobs, amenities and services that improve the quality of life, Lemmons and Chatman said.
"I like the fact that we're looking proactively at the demographic information to get a glimpse at what we're getting in the future," Commissioner Jeff Larson said.
While focusing on the city's future economic progress, Lemmons briefly touched on steps officials could take to attract and keep businesses that would be appropriate to Tarpon Springs. Those measures include reviewing and adjusting existing incentive programs and streamlining the municipal permitting processes.
"Understanding demographics are essential to managing expectations of the types of businesses and stores we can expect to see in the future," Lemmons said.
Commissioner Chris Alahouzos added a recommendation that existing businesses be offered seminars that would help them better utilize current technologies and management practices.