Roswell…Yesterday and Today
The City of Roswell, Georgia was incorporated over 150 years ago in 1854, and is located in northern Fulton County, 20 miles north of the City of Atlanta. The City of Roswell has a land area of 42.02 square miles and has an unparalleled quality of life for its 94,763 residents (per the U.S. Census Bureau, 2019).
Roswell’s historical chronology begins around 1830 with founder Roswell King arriving on horseback from Darien, Georgia. On February 16, 1854, the Georgia General Assembly incorporated the City of Roswell. Roswell was a manufacturing village comprised of a cotton factory and later, a woolen mill run with waterpower from Vickery Creek, now known as Big Creek. Homes were large columned structures of the mill owners, smaller homes, and even apartments of the mill employees. Roswell was to be affected by the Civil War early in July, 1864.
Brigadier General Kenner Garrard’s cavalry corps occupied the town. General Garrard and troops destroyed the factories and mills by fire, at General Sherman’s order. General Garrard arrested the owners and employees for treason, and sent women and children north. Roswell’s prominent families had refugeed to other parts of Georgia. The Presbyterian Church was used as a hospital. Barrington Hall and Great Oaks were used as headquarters, and Holly Hill as a garrison. The occupation of Roswell by thousands of troops is why so much of the original Roswell survived the war. After the war and the return of Roswell’s leaders, the Roswell Manufacturing Company was rebuilt, and prospered until 1892. The major buildings were destroyed by lightning and never rebuilt. The ruins remain to remind us of what the town was like when incorporated in 1854. In the Historic District, many of the old homes remain from the hardworking village supported by an economy based on textiles.
Today, Roswell continues to be a prosperous municipality. The City of Roswell earned an uninsured “AAA” bond rating, the highest possible rating. Fiscally prudent practices on behalf of the elected officials and the city administration contribute to this superior rating and the City’s excellent financial strength.
As of July 1, 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau determined that the annual estimated population of Roswell, Georgia was 94,763. The average household size is an estimated 2.73 persons with a median annual household income of $99,726. The per capita income in Roswell is $50,712.
In Roswell 93.2% of the population has a high school degree or above with 58.2% having obtained a college degree. Of the residents of Roswell 68.3% own their own home and the median value is $374,700. (U.S. Census Bureau).
Roswell is nestled beneath a canopy of trees alongside the Chattahoochee River. The City is rich in heritage and preserves its past with a 640-acre Historic District. The Historic District has adopted a trend toward “new urbanism” where pedestrians are encouraged to get out of their cars to stroll along brick-paved, tree-lined sidewalks. Tourists and day visitors, drawn to Roswell’s many historical homes and churches, often stay to shop in a number of popular restaurants, trendy art galleries, shops, and offices. The City’s three historic house museums, Barrington Hall, Bulloch Hall, and Smith Plantation host thousands of visitors annually through the numerous tours and special events offered throughout the year. According to a Georgia Tech revenue model, tourism, and tourism-related activities bring in excess of $76 million annually to the Roswell community.
City of Roswell essential services meet the highest customer service standards and the Mayor and Council are committed to maintaining a high quality of life for Roswell’s citizens.
The City of Roswell provides a full range of services to its citizens. These services include police and fire protection; public works; court system; detention facility; the construction and maintenance of recreational pathways, streets, and infrastructure; solid waste collection and recycling; planning and zoning; building inspections; recreation activities and cultural events; water and storm water management; and inherent administrative and support activities. The City also operates a web site, citizen engagement, and broadcasts a youtube channel.
The Fulton County Board of Education provides public education for all of Fulton County, including Roswell. Within Roswell City limits there are 9 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, 2 high schools, and 13 private schools.
Cultural facilities include Roswell’s Cultural Arts Center and many historic properties including Barrington Hall, Bulloch Hall, and Smith Plantation. Roswell is served by the Atlanta-Fulton County Library System.
The City operates under a charter adopted in 1854 and revised on April 19, 2000, which provides for a Mayor-Council form of government with a city administrator. The Mayor and six council members are part-time employees. Each Council member is elected by the entire City and serves “at large” with post assignments. An election for one half of the council occurs every two years. While all six Council Members are elected at large, all must reside within the City of Roswell. The Mayor is elected to a term of four years to serve on a part-time basis. It is the duty of the Council members, in general, to set policy, set millage rates, to approve budgets, to pass ordinances, and to hear and act on requests for rezoning and annexation. The Chief Administrative and Operational Officer of the City is the City Administrator, who is appointed by the City of Roswell Mayor and Council to: implement Council policies; oversee the daily activities of the City; and supervise the City’s department heads.
Local Economic Conditions and Outlook
The City of Roswell has earned an “AAA” bond rating, the highest possible rating, consistently each year since 2000. The City is also a great place to do business. New business starts continue to increase in Roswell, with the largest increase in the home-based business sector. Given Roswell’s access to GA 400 and proximity to Perimeter Center, Buckhead, Midtown and Downtown Atlanta, the City is well situated to capitalize on future expansion and relocation.
The City’s population has increased approximately twelve percent in the last ten years. Historically, large population growth would likely result in further sprawl with the expansion of residential neighborhoods and chain-filled shopping centers. Now, however, local municipalities are looking inward and taking stock of their resources. They are reinvesting in current properties and implementing creative new zoning practices that will improve the quality of life within. Roswell’s UDC, or Unified Development Code, is an invaluable tool in the City’s redevelopment efforts. It allows for mixed-use zoning and simplifies the processes that have hindered new businesses in the past.
The aging shopping centers of the 80’s and 90’s are being converted into office, retail and even residential spaces that allow residents to live, work and play within a walkable area. These new live, work, play developments within the City combine restaurants, retail and office space and residential units. Roswell Exchange is one mixed use project that is currently under construction. Located on 18.1 acres at the intersection of Alpharetta Highway and Sun Valley Drive, this development will bring restaurants, retail, office space, 300 multifamily units and approximately 400 jobs to the local economy. Another mixed use development located steps from Roswell’s City Hall and Canton Street is Southern Post. The former Roswell Plaza located on Alpharetta Highway between Norcross and Fraser Street will contain retail space, loft style and open concept office space, apartments and townhomes.
City of Roswell Awards
2020 Digital Cities Survey from The Center for Digital Government (CDG)
Roswell Recreation and Parks - 2017 National Gold Medal Winner from the National Recreation and Parks Association.
Named One of the Best Affordable Suburbs in U.S. Roswell was added to the 25 Best Affordable Suburbs in the U.S. by BusinessWeek.com and Sperling’s Best Places. The list is comprised of suburbs of the nation’s largest metro areas and focuses on median home prices, cost of living, crime rates, and education systems.
Named One of the Top Three Cities in the Nation to Raise Your Family. Roswell was listed third in the book, Best Places to Raise Your Family, released by Frommer’s.
Sixth Best Place in America to Retire (Black Enterprise Magazine, September 2008)
Ranked the 18th Safest City in the United States – City Crime Rankings
Named a Gold Certified Green Community by Atlanta Regional Commission in 2013, for leadership in its environmental and sustainability efforts. Certified Green Communities set an example by conserving energy, investing in renewable energy, conserving water, conserving fuel, reducing waste, and protecting and restoring the community’s natural resources.
Georgia Trendsetter Award 2006 - Georgia Municipal Association - Roswell received the award for the Big Creek Wetlands demonstration project.
Create Community Award 2005 - The Atlanta Regional Commission’s most prestigious award. Roswell was honored for its efforts in environmental sustainability.
City of Excellence 2003 – Georgia Municipal Association’s most prestigious award. Only 50 cities in the state have been honored with the designation.
Designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community 2006 – League of American Bicyclists
Money Magazine’s 19th Best City to Live in the Eastern US – Roswell was ranked 19th for cities with populations under 100,000.
Atlanta Magazine’s Best Place to Live in Metro Atlanta– Roswell was honored twice by Atlanta Magazine as the best place to live in the metro area.
Internationally Accredited Police Department - Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
Gold Award for the City of Roswell Cecil Wood Water Processing Plant from the Georgia Association of Water Professionals.
Nationally Accredited Recreation and Parks Department – Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies
2007 Gold Award for the City’s Website from the Association of Marketing & Communication Professionals
Achievement of Excellence in Procurement – 2004-2020 – The National Institute of Governmental Purchasing
GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award – 2005-2021: Government Finance Officer’s Association
Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting – 34 consecutive years: Government Finance Officer’s Association.
Georgia Recreation and Parks Agency of the Year – 1974, 1979, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2011 and 2017.
Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Best Innovative Solutions Award for the Grimes Bridge Road at Norcross Street/Warsaw Road Roundabout.
Georgia Engineering Alliance Honor Award for the Grimes Bridge Road at Norcross Street/Warsaw Road Roundabout.
Georgia Planning Association (GPA) Award - “2011 Great Places in Georgia - Great Street” Award for Canton Street.
Clean Air Campaign PACE award for being a Government Champion for offering its employees telecommute options, flexible work arrangements/compressed work week and carpool options.
Tax Collection Procedure
The City of Roswell levies and collects ad valorem taxes. Real and personal taxes are generally billed in October of each year and are due in December. The City’s tax collection rate has averaged 98.0% over the last five years. The chart below details the top ten principal property tax payers for FY 2020 and FY 2011 for comparison.
For more statistical information including economic information, please refer to City of Roswell's Consolidated Annual Financial Report, pages 87 though 96 for FY 2020. All Consolidated Annual Financial Reports are located on our City's website https://www.roswellgov.com/government/departments/finance/financial-reports or click here.