Monday, June 29, 2015

Residency Requirements

In a letter to her email list, Jane Adams pointed out a change to residency requirements on the agenda for tomorrow night's city council meeting. Currently, executive city employees are required to live within the city limits, all other city employees must live within 9 miles of the city, Under the current ordinance, this means that only 10 out of all the city employees are required to live in Carbondale. From the proposed ordinace: 

Pay Grade 9 City Attorney, Public Works Director, Finance Director, Police Chief, Fire Chief,
Administrative Services Director (Human Resources), Development Services
Director (Building, Planning/Zoning, Code Enforcement)

Pay Grade 8 Accounting Manager, Maintenance & Environmental Services Manager (PW),
Information Systems Manager (IT), Water Operations Manager

Pay Grade 8 Exemptions
Deputy Police Chief (2), Police Lieutenant (4), Assistant Fire Chief (3)

The City Manager position (unclassified pay grade) and the City Clerk (pay grade 6) are also
required to reside within the City limits according to City Code.

The city has not had a Police Chief since last summer, after the firing of then Chief Jody O'Guinn. Jeff Grubbs has filled the position as Interim Police Chief since then and both Mayor Mike Henry and City Manager Kevin Baity have expresses satisfaction with his work and a desire to hire him as Police Chief. However, Grubbs lives outside the city, but within the 9 miles required. For Grubbs to accept the position, he would need to sell or otherwise dispose of his current residence and move within city limits.

Furthermore, Fire Chief John Michalesko plans to retire in the near future, meaning that the city will either need to promote from within or recruit a new chief from outside. Apparently, the requirement to live within city limits is seen as a impediment in either case.

It would appear then, that while the city works to bring in outside businesses, students and new residents, city staff do not see it as a particularly desirable location to live and that requiring higher pay grade officials to live here is an impediment to recruiting them.

Below are the four options city staff has presented and the staff recommendation. You will note that leaving things as they are is not one of the four optioned presented:

A number of options were reviewed that include:
1. Require all new employees to live within the City limits. This is not an option as the police and fire
unions’ contract allow for residency within the 9-mile boundary. This matter was the subject of a legalcase in which the unions wanted to extend the boundary to greater than 9 miles. The result was a rulingin favor of the City to retain the 9-mile boundary.

2. Create more exemptions for more classes of executive employees, similar to the 1999 and 2005 Councilactions. This only serves to further alienate the few remaining employees who are bound by the Citylimits requirement. This could also lead to a discrimination law suit brought by those remaining nonexempted employees.

3. Eliminate the City limits requirement for executive employees. In other words, all employees have thesame rights and must live within the 9-mile boundary. The argument against this is “there will be a largenumber of employees leave the City limits.” As indicated above, currently only 10 employees (3.7%) arebound by this requirement therefore there cannot be a large number of employees leave the City.

4. Eliminate all residency requirements. Due to the previous legal decision in favor of the City and the 9-mile residency boundary, this is not a viable option. Each time the police and fire union contracts are upfor renegotiation, they try to argue extending the boundary; this year the argument was from 9 miles to20 miles.

After conducting a review of the history presented above and the significantly small number of employees affected by the current City limit residency requirement, it is recommended the City Council choose Option 3above and adopt an Ordinance eliminating the City limits requirement for executive employees in pay grades 8 and 9, the City Manager and the City Clerk.

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