Walker’s residency proposal would affect Racine city department heads

2013-02-23T23:55:00Z 2013-12-17T10:52:36Z Walker’s residency proposal would affect Racine city department headsALISON BAUTER alison.bauter@journaltimes.com Journal Times

RACINE — Racine’s city administrator could commute from Milwaukee and the police chief could drive in from Kenosha if a residency-related proposal in Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget goes through.

It’s a short paragraph in the governor’s nearly 600-page executive budget, but the three sentences abolishing residency requirements for municipal employees irk some local leaders.

In Racine, nine department heads, the chief of police, fire chief and city administrator are the only municipal employees required to live within city limits, a requirement designed to ensure department heads stay engaged in the community that they serve, according to Mayor John Dickert.

Although he’s no fan of imposing residency requirements — not necessary if your city is an appealing location to begin with, he said — “there’s something to be said for local control,” Dickert said.

City Administrator Tom Friedel (one of those required to live within city limits) also said Walker’s prohibition on residency requirements represents an unnecessary intrusion.

“I guess the governor just doesn’t believe in local control,” Friedel said.

The proposed change is unlikely to strongly impact Racine, where firefighters, police and most city employees haven’t been required to live within city limits for more than decade, according to Friedel. It’s a different story in Milwaukee, where lifting the residency requirements imposed on law enforcement, firefighters, Milwaukee Public School teachers and other municipal employees could have a big impact.

In an email to The Journal Times, Fire Chief Steve Hansen noted, “Residency is a very complicated issue about control. Control over employees — where they live, where they spend their off time, where they spend their earnings and how they perceive the community where they work.”

Although the requirement ostensibly exists to keep dollars spent and property taxes paid within the community, Hansen said it begs the bigger question: “If municipal employees do not want to live where they work ... why do they not want to live where they work? What can be done to make the municipality a more attractive place to live?”

Even if the residency requirement gets lifted, Hansen said he’ll remain a Racine resident until he retires.

Copyright 2015 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. johnny mack
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    johnny mack - February 25, 2013 6:13 am
    Fire chiefs family lives in Burlington yet he says he stays at Masonic during the week. If its true I'm sure his family would be happy to see him home nightly. And sorry people but its not that easy. What if one person in house works in Milwaukee and another in Racine and both have residency rules? It's forcing a person from a job. And for all those who say local workers need to keep money in the city, ha!! Yeah cause Racine is booming with commercial properties. Broke down mall and a few strip malls.
  2. Kay Nine
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    Kay Nine - February 25, 2013 1:30 am
    Public workers see enough of the city's residents during their work hours. They shouldn't be forced to live among them on their off time. An employer has no right dictating what someone does with their off time or where they choose to live. The responsibility to make Racine desirable is with it's citizens.
  3. ggodmuls
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    ggodmuls - February 24, 2013 7:24 pm
    Detroit has tried that also. It now appears that Governor Snyder is going to refuse to bail them out.

    Detroit — For the second time in a year, a state review team has found Detroit is in a financial emergency that requires Gov. Rick Snyder to intervene in City Hall.

    But this time, if Snyder agrees that a financial emergency exists, the governor's choices are more limited. He could appoint an emergency manager to keep Michigan's largest city from plunging into bankruptcy, experts say, or he could continue state financial supervision through a new consent agreement, which seems a faint possibility.

    State Treasurer Andy Dillon ruled out a bankruptcy filing at this time.

    The end game approaches...

    A cash-flow deficit of more than $100 million without "significant spending cuts" by June 30, on top of an accumulated deficit of $327 million.

    $14.9 billion, including unfunded pension and employee retirement liabilities. The city also needs $1.9 billion during the next five years to make payments for the liabilities, but city officials have no debt payment plan.

    Accumulated deficits in the general fund of $155.4 million to $331.9 million annually since the 2005 fiscal year.

    Dillon said the city has been "masking over" annual deficits with long-term borrowing. The report said that without the borrowing, the deficits would total $937 million in fiscal year 2012.

    "We believe there's a financial emergency in the city and that there's no plan in place to correct the situation," Dillon said.

    Chapter 9 bankruptcy is "always a possibility but I don't think the city should go through (Chapter) 9 to cure its ailments," he added.

  4. Give Me a Break
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    Give Me a Break - February 24, 2013 5:49 pm
    Speaking of hypocrisy, I guess the locals don't want any state involvement, just their money.
  5. schoolgirl72
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    schoolgirl72 - February 24, 2013 12:56 pm
    The reason Walker is dipping his nose into this is to pay back the Milwaukee Firefighters for endorsing him in both the fist election and the recall. They publicly stated they would back the candidate who would remove their residency requirement. Now Walker is keeping his promise to them
  6. Relocate
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    Relocate - February 24, 2013 12:47 pm
    He doesn't believe in local intrusion....but does believe in intruding upon the locals. Outstanding hypocrisy.
  7. kevinsmom68
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    kevinsmom68 - February 24, 2013 12:02 pm
    "City Administrator Tom Friedel (one of those required to live within city limits) also said Walker’s prohibition on residency requirements represents an unnecessary intrusion.

    “I guess the governor just doesn’t believe in local control,” Friedel said."

    Guess it makes you sweat a bit because you had the job HANDED to you with no outside posting because you are the MAYOR'S COUSIN, Tom Friedel.

    we need some outsiders! all of you are corrupt and you have been covering each other's lies and crimes for far too long.
  8. Green Racinereal
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    Green Racinereal - February 24, 2013 11:45 am
    Racine is so great we will force you to live here. Run run now if you can!
    Sadly I am suck here until we can pay off the House then we are GONE!
    If all heck comes we like so many Property owners Downtown Racine will quit paying our property taxes, that be a down payment (cash) on a small Farm.
    Sure we lose the house we so love but Mayor Dickert is making Racine unlivable.
  9. Relocate
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    Relocate - February 24, 2013 11:25 am
    Government, no matter how local or national, should not be able to dictate to employees something so trivial as where they choose to lay their head.
  10. LoveRacine
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    LoveRacine - February 24, 2013 10:12 am
    This is not a State issue. Why is Walker even addresing this? Racine use to have a residency requirement for all Police and Fire Dept. employees. This was changed through local contract negotiations. This is an issue that can be argued locally and should be. The State, just like the Federal level of government is intruding more and more on how local municipalities conduct business. Walker's continued intrusion in dictating local policies affecting education, tax levies, employee rights, etc. is no different than the Federal government intruding on States' rights.
  11. ggodmuls
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    ggodmuls - February 24, 2013 9:08 am
    Walker needs to go ahead with this, and I used to oppose it, but I changed my mind. What caused me to change my mind is that private citizens and residents need to know where their public employees choose to live - because this is a good indication of where they should live, because the public employees certainly aren't going to live in a ghetto town like Racine.

    When Mayor John Dickert tells residents" Our costs for fuel, salt, electricity, emergency services to name a few, continue to rise, and as they do, your services will continually have to be cut. It’s an unwinnable situation. it says it all.

    Racine is a LOSER. The Mayor even says so. Time to move and get out. Residents have seen the writing on the wall now for long enough. If you're not wise enough to get out of Racine, then you should suffer.

    No Senior or poor family has any reason to complain if they are foolish enough to stay in the City. City Administrator Tom Friedel has made it clear to residents, and is threatening to tax them out of their homes if they don't meet his demands. Clearly it is time to flee an economically distressed City like Racine, that is tottering on the edge of Default and Bankruptcy, when the CIty Administrator says: “Any increase that we incur in expenses — whether that be the Wisconsin Retirement System contributions going up, or cost of fuel or electricity increasing — any of those costs that we incur will have to be borne by the property taxpayers,” Friedel said.

    WIth the City of Racine clearly headed for financial failure - GET OUT! This is your final year before the fall!

    Who will be the bagholders for the bondholders in the coming financial collapse of Racine?
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