Monday, July 07, 2008

Municipal Residency Requirements

As any of you who read the QCTimes know, they've been running a series on cities' residency requirements, how they affect their applicant pool, and some of the reasons behind the rules.

It seems like the common thread through the articles is a general dislike of the rules, which in some ways is understandable. I completely disagree that rules that allow employees to work for a different city/county in one state, but not a closer city/county across the river. The example was where a city's firefighters could legally live in Muscatine, but not Rock Island. I understand, and will explain below, requiring government employees to live in the jurisdiction of their particular city or county. However, if you're going to let employees live outside your city or county, there shouldn't be requirements by state either. A radius in miles from the city hall, police station, fire station, or public works building would make more sense to me. I know there were a couple jobs for Rock Island that I was intrigued by, but despite being able to see the city from my living room window, I couldn't have worked there without moving. However, someone that lived south of Milan would have been eligible. That makes little sense to me.

On the other hand, I completely agree with cities/counties requiring some (or all) of their employees to live in the particular municipality they work for. These government jobs are usually decent paying and have good benefits, so what's wrong with one more job requirement? There are already plenty of things that employers insist on in order to hire someone. If they're going to pay you well and give you good benefits, the least you can do is give them back some loyalty in the form of property taxes.

I especially feel this rule is justified for police, which apparently the new Chief does not. Forcing officers to live in the very same community they're responsible for protecting should give us all a sense that we're in this together. Someone can't say, "well, good enough for government work" and then drive home to a nearby suburb, unaffected by how well they did or did not do their job. If cops don't feel safe in their town, that should just give them more empathy for the rest of us depending on them. We're all in the same boat.

I know there are some strong feelings out there about Davenport city employees living elsewhere than Davenport, so lets hear it.

26 Comments:

At 7/07/2008 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I understand the concept, "If you work at a restaurant you ought to eat there, too", it also isn't that simple, especially if you have a spouse that may work for a different city or perhaps a different school district. What if you both are required to live in your particular city? Are you expected to live apart from your spouse? It is further complicated if you have kids and want them to be in a specific school district. This is a complicated issue with no one-size-fits-all solution. City's should be about hiring the best person for each job. I think that is a taxpayer's first expectation.

 
At 7/07/2008 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work for a municipal government but do not live in the City. To me, living in the City would be like living in one's office. There are weeks and even months when I'm so immersed in my work that leaving the City, even if it's just for the night, is a necessary break from the constant "on call" feeling you have when you live in your "office". The City and its residents get my undivided attention 50-60 and sometimes more hours per week. I should be allowed to spend the remainder of my time wherever I want.

 
At 7/07/2008 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 7/07/2008 10:24 AM, Anonymous sc said...

Good topic QCI. I felt the articles from the QCT were biased. No surprise there, but it gets tiring that they still haven't figured out the difference between editorializing and writing a news story.

There are many roles who need to live within the city or district they are working for. All police, because they need to have a vested interest in improving the safety and building relationships, not just maintaining the status quo. I've heard a Davenport police officer, who lives elsewhere, say he would never live in Davenport because of the crime. That's ridiculous.

Management also needs to live here. Their decisions affect the taxpayers of the municipality they live in, they need to at least be willing to put their money where their mouth is.

Anon, as far as two spouses working for two different municipalities, well, that sucks. Kind of like if my spouse gets offered a job across the country, I either have to find a job there too or we don't go. That's life. Marriage is about compromise. And if you don't like the schools, work to improve them. If they are that bad, they likely need some good parental involvement to help reshape them.

 
At 7/07/2008 1:43 PM, Blogger Robbie C. said...

i fully support the residency requirements. you stated it well in your post, there are plenty of requirements for jobs, whats so wrong with this one? the first anonymous asks what if you and your spouse work for different cities? then i guess you should find a new job.

 
At 7/07/2008 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In larger cities such as NY or Chicago you end up with neighborhoods on the very edges of the city that are full of cops and firemen. With the 'densely packed' QCA Rock Island's living radius seems like the best solution. Cops should at least live in the state that they work in.

 
At 7/07/2008 4:03 PM, Blogger Pho3niX said...

10:04, your comments could not be farther from the truth... aside from the knowing what's going on bit... that's VERY accurate.

9:06, I can relate. I "live" where I work at least 50 hours/week.

Two more thoughts;
1. If a municipality wanted to make a dent in energy consumption (aside from supporting/instituting mass transit) then the radius-based residency requirement would be a good way to go. At least require that new hires live near where they work.
2. I don't live in the City for which I work... and in my particular instance I find that it gives me a healthy dose of objectivity which helps me do what I do.

 
At 7/07/2008 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Post, Grat Comments! I for one support residency requirements just as I support allowing and even encouraging investment property ownership within a certain block proximity of your home. If you live near the concerns you are employed to address you are much more liekly to be vigilent about your job and the job others do on your behalf. It's called investment - investment in your neighborhood; investment in your community; and investment in the bigger ideal.

 
At 7/07/2008 7:39 PM, Blogger pioneer98 said...

I agree with the concept of residency requirements for cops. There are some tricky things to work out.

No one has mentioned requirements for teachers or any school related jobs yet. There are a ton of those jobs, and they would have a more vested interest in helping a student succeed if the kid was a neighbor. The requirement there would be easy - they'd just have to live in the school district, which in Davenport's case does include some outlying areas.

 
At 7/07/2008 7:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the IT Department head for the City of Davenport still lives in Cedar Rapids. I believe all department heads should be required to live in the city. Also, if an employee lives outside the city, in NO Circumstances should they be taking a city owned vehicle home.

 
At 7/07/2008 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:04 I somewhat agree as far as I know she resides in Princeton, a full 22 miles from Davenport, and she's a pain. The attitude gives it all away especially since she is sometimes the first face the public sees when they walk in the CED dept

 
At 7/08/2008 7:07 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

People should be free to live wherever they want regardless of their job. I do not think police officers fail to do their best on the job because they live in a different city. For years I lived in Davenport and worked in East Moline and was very competent at my job every day. I enjoyed the physical distance from my job and co-workers. I know Davenport police officers are doing a great job now and restricting where they may live is just wrong!

 
At 7/08/2008 7:34 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

How is this requirement any different than the city requiring them to not wear a mohawk, or any other job requirement that may not affect job performance?

 
At 7/08/2008 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To robbie c. - So if you work for a city your spouse has to give up their right to work somewhere else? What if I work for Dewitt but my spouse and I want our kids to go to school in Davenport?

If you work at JC Penny should you buy all your clothes there? What if your spouse buys something from Von Maur, should you be fired? What if you work for Pepsi, but your spouse likes Coke?

Just because someone is paid with tax dollars does not give the taxpayers total control over their lives. Am I the only one that hears how ridiculous that sounds?

To QCI - How does requiring them to live in the same city affect their job performance? The theory that it gives them some vested interest is pretty thin. If they don't like the schools for their kids it may negatively impact their job performance.

And I heard it earlier, "Work to make the schools better", I do but already, but the results are pretty mixed at best.

If you believe "life, liberty and the pursuiut of happiness" are truly inalienable, then you have to believe that Jefferson didn't mean for you to pursue them only in the for which you are employed.

 
At 7/08/2008 10:37 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

My point was that even if it doesn't affect the job, there are other things employers require of their employees that may not affect their job either. Part of choosing where to work involves deciding if you're willing to do what they require of you.

 
At 7/08/2008 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alderman Ray Ambrose has been outspoken about the Davenport police living in Davenport. I’m not sure but I think Bill Lynn also supported this crusaded. I believe they felt the police would be more invested in responding to the crime if they had to live in the same situations the tax payers did. Lynn, Hamerlinck & Ambrose have also been outspoken in the improved service since the new chief came on.

 
At 7/08/2008 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know a lot of public school teachers who send there kids to private (catholic) schools.

 
At 7/08/2008 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

QCI - I would respond by saying that there is a significant gap about telling you how to wear your hair and where you have to live. I find one within the range of reasonableness and one not.

That's my two cents.

 
At 7/08/2008 7:29 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Controlling where an employee may live is totally unreasonable and not at all similar to controlling an employee's appearance/haircut/clothing. I think it would be reasonable to restrict employees to a ten mile radius from their city; however, anything more seems ridiculous to me.

 
At 7/08/2008 8:10 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

How is it different than jobs that require you to relocate?

Personally, I find that requirement unreasonable, but everyone has their different options.

I'm not saying its not a big deal to limit where people can live, but I don't think its some unheard of or "ridiculous" requirement.

Of course, I'm biased because I so dislike white flight and bedroom community suburbs sucking people away from Davenport. This idea of "I'm going to take Davenport's good salary, and then go hide away in PV" bothers a lot of people, me included.

 
At 7/09/2008 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think your employer should have absolutely no control of your private job, just try driving your Toyota to your job at General Motors.

 
At 7/10/2008 8:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw in the paper today about 98 people moved to Davenport last year. If you had the police and fire move here, that number would jump by about 150 more. Their are about 900 city employees. Alderman Ambrose was correct when he said, "Just think of the tax base increase if just the City employees lived in the City!!".

 
At 7/10/2008 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wouldn't increase a nickel if they all bought existing homes.

 
At 7/10/2008 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me, this falls under the same logic as forcing communities to accept a bid for products or services from a business in the community even if the bid is higher than a competitor who does not own a business in that city. If all cities did this, then Davenport businesses would not sell to or do work for the cities of Bettendorf, Moline or Rock Island and vice versa. If all city employees were forced to live in the city they work for, then Davenport employees would be forced to more into the City but conversely, all employees of other cities that currently live in Davenport would be forced to move out.

 
At 7/10/2008 10:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The examples of red herrings which have been thrown in here by each side range from dumb to just plain stupid.

I won't dignify any of those of either side by stating my reason but I will state categorically that I would prefer it to be an absolute condition of employment that every single one of my city employees from the bottom of the food chain right on up to the very top must reside within the city limits of Davenport.

No exemptions.

 
At 7/11/2008 6:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks 1020.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home