By Alderman Willie L. Hines, Jr.
15th District Alderman
Common Council President
The Governor recently released his 2014-16 bi-annual budget and while the city needs additional resources, I appreciate his decision not to cut shared revenue, transportation aids and municipal services. Additionally, while I value the fact that the Governor also kept the levy limit the same I am disappointed that he included lifting residency. While lifting the residency requirement adds no value to the state, it does create harm to local municipalities.
Lifting the residency requirement across the state, specifically for the City of Milwaukee, does nothing for the city or the state budget. Like many cities across the nation, Milwaukee is going through a tough time. We are faced with historic levels of foreclosures, decreased property values and a crushing economy.
While we yet have the spirit and determination to succeed, the above stated unusual challenges, coupled with the Governors decision to lift residency for all city employees, would have an even more detrimental impact on the city.
Many City of Milwaukee employees are homeowners and add value to their neighborhood and the broader community. City employees are hard workers, their positions are highly coveted and they are well compensated with tax dollars collected from Milwaukee residents. When positions are posted, with the residency requirement known upfront, the city has received thousands of applicants for less than a hundred slots. In this case the market has decided that the City does not have a problem recruiting for positions even when residency is apart of the job requirement.
Residency is a local matter and therefore should be addressed at the local municipality level. The current resident requirement has not impeded our ability to higher quality employees and I have no clue of what problem the State will solve by advancing residency.
The State’s actions do absolutely nothing to help combat the challenges we face. In fact, removing residency is extremely harmful, punitive and hurts the city.
Additionally, I would ask Milwaukee residents to get involved, pick up the phone, write letters and contact their state representative asking them to reject the state-wide residency legislation. The City of Milwaukee and municipalities across this state do not need help on residency.
I am hopeful that the legislative body understands this and recognizes the importance of residency and local control. It is an asset to any community to have municipal employees living in the city that they work for and serve.
For more information and to sign a petition to support residency, visit www.MilwaukeeStrong.com.