April 23, 2014

Opposition to residency requirement at JFC hearing

Wisconsinites voice their opinions on Governor Walker’s two-year budget proposal.

Public workers in Milwaukee are currently required to live in that city, but police officer Shawn Cleveland supports the governor’s plan to lift the long-standing residency requirement for all municipal employees. He wants the best education for his kids, but tells lawmakers he doesn’t have that option at Milwaukee Public Schools. “Unfortunately we’re being required to live within the city, and thus, we don’t have much of a choice unless we take a large financial burden upon sending our kids to a private school or having to get an open enrollment, which there is no guarantee.”

Milwaukee professional firefighters association president David Seager “strongly supports” eliminating the law that dates back to the 1930s. He says the firefighters will continue to carry out their honorable commitments to the city of Milwaukee regardless of where they choose to live while off duty. “The men and women of the Milwaukee fire department are committed to serving and protecting the city of Milwaukee. They put themselves in harm’s way each and every day to protect all of the people who live, work, and play in Milwaukee.” He goes on, “They take that professional obligation freely and risk their lives, as well.”

Sager says requiring fire personnel to live where they work does not promote safer neighborhoods or fewer fires. He says it’s time Wisconsin eliminate this “archaic requirement.”

Supporters of the residency requirement say people will spend money in their city of residence and contribute to the community. There will be a declining impact on area businesses if people move out. Others say the issue needs to be discussed, but the budget is not the place for such a major policy change.

The first of four public hearings on the two-year budget was held Thursday in Greendale. The Joint Finance Committee will take their next meeting to Green Bay on Monday, April 8; then Wednesday, April 10 they’ll here from residents in Wisconsin Dells; and then on Thursday, April 18 in Baldwin.