Williston Service Population | VideoEvan Kruegel | 3/1/2013
Sylvia Cesares doesn`t live in Williston, but she uses the city on a regular basis.
"About once a week, mainly to do groceries and to fill up on gas."
That makes Cesares a member of Williston`s service population, a group of about 16,000 people who don`t pay property taxes, but benefit from goods inside the city.
"That`s where you see the long lines and the traffic today. That not necessarily the increase in the permanent population but that`s your service population coming here,” said Economic Development Assistant Director Shawn Wenko.
Studies show that in the next five years, the service population will remain about the same.
"We don`t know exactly how many of these people will stay. Some of them, that`s their desire, others really plan on just being here to work and then going home to their home in Georgia or wherever that might be,” said Mayor Ward Koeser.
The permanent population is expected to grow by over 10,000. City officials attribute those projections to new housing that`s finally becoming available.
"When we look at the housing aspect, we probably wouldn`t have as high of a service population right now if we had housing for a lot of those residents. You`re looking at a shortage in housing, high rents, I think it`s forcing a lot of residents into the county and into the other townships as they look for places to live,” said Wenko.
Until that housing becomes available, city planners must develop infrastructure to accommodate not only the permanent residents, but the service population as well.