City Readies for Thousands of New Residents
New population may be more than expected. City makes two-part strategy to assess staffing and other needs.
The Norcross Community Development Dept. has been busy. They’ve hit the ground in an area east of Buford Highway that voted to come into the city by annexation, knocking on the doors of every business to determine how many vacancies are out there—and to direct business owners to the Norcross City Hall for a license instead of Gwinnett County.
Residents of the area will enter the city Jan. 1, after a narrowly decided vote on Nov. 8, changing the city limits from 4.2 square miles to 6.14 square miles, according to numbers provided by the Community Development Dept.
The population of the city will also swell—perhaps more than was originally thought. The Atlanta Regional Commission had initially provided the city with a population estimate of between 3,000 to 3,600 residents, according to data presented in the city’s fiscal analysis of the annexation measure.
But new Census data points to a much larger population in the area. The Census numbers put the number of residents at 5,867, which may include minors while the earlier data did not, says Chris McCrary, Community Development Director for the City of Norcross.
City officials say the change in estimated population does not effect the plans for annexation, however. The revenue projects in the fiscal analysis were per parcel, said McCrary, and the property tax is based on the size of the lot, which remains constant.
“I don’t think it will make a difference because we don’t make decisions on a per-1,000 person basis,” said Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson.
One area that could be affected by a larger than estimated population is public safety and police. In the city presentation about the annexation, police identified the need for an estimated five additional staff, broken down into three police officers and two civilian communications officers to deal with increased call volume.
Johnson said that the city is looking at this as a two-part process. First, they want to focus on services and education. (One new code enforcement officer should be in place by the beginning of the year, according to McCrary.) “We want to do it in a caring, you’re-part-of-the-family way,” said Johnson.
Then, Johnson says the city will assess the need for additional police. This will also give a chance for the incoming police chief to weigh in on the decision, since current Chief Dallas Stidd will retire on Jan. 1. “When we add officers we want to do it in a strategic way,” said Johnson. “We want to make sure the current residents and the new residents are getting the same level of policing they always have.”
In the interim, Johnson points out that Norcross Police are currently in the area working for the Gwinnett Village CID—and their presence will remain, perhaps with changes to the territory they cover.