Instead Of Residency Requirement, City Could Give Incentives

The clips in The Post-Journal’s small in-house library transported us recently back to 2001, when the City Council last seriously considered a residency requirement for city employees.

Back in 2001-02 there seemed to be momentum to require new employees to live in Jamestown before a majority of the City Council voted against a residency requirement. Brief discussions were had in 2009 but eventually went nowhere as well.

There are good arguments on both sides of the residency requirement issue. Those in favor of requiring city employees to live inside the city argue that one reason taxes are high is because of salary and benefit costs for city employees, so city employees should support the tax base of the place where they work. Those against argue that an employer has no business telling employees where they have to live, that a residency requirement would limit the pool of available employees for key positions and state law excludes two city departments from any residency requirement.

Rather than a residency requirement, more effort should go into making Jamestown the type of city where its employees and their families want to live — no strings attached. Of course, that often means lower taxes and addressing quality of life issues. Perhaps the city can create an incentive program that would accomplish the same aim as a residency requirement, but we see no reason right now for a residency requirement to be seriously discussed.


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