November 27, 2014

Local officials speak out on residency rule proposal

A group of local officials from around Wisconsin gathered at the Capitol Wednesday to call for removal of a budget provision which would affect residency rules. The governor’s proposed budget would bar municipalities from requiring its employees to live within city limits.

Kaukauna Mayor Gene Rosin said residency rules are vital to public safety. He said off duty first responders–such as firefighters, police officers, and public works employees–who live within the municipality can respond quicker to emergencies when they are activated. “Time is of the essence,” he said.

A Milwaukee firefighters union which wants the residency rule lifted had testified that response times have very little to do with where off duty personnel live.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called the budget provision  “an intrusion into local affairs.”

The more than half-dozen city officials and the Wisconsin League of Municipalities, which organized the news conference, emphasized such a policy change should not be in the two-year budget proposal. They are also concerned about funding city services as municipal employees who move out would no longer re-investing their paychecks into the communities they serve.

Also on Wednesday, a co-chair of the legislature’s budget committee indicated majority Republicans may make changes to the residency rule request.