Thursday, November 06, 2008

To Live In Utica . . .

That is the decision to be made by all those job seekers who would like to work for the City of Utica.
Starting Jan. 1, all newly hired Utica employees – from janitors to fire and policemen to department heads – will be required to live in the city that employs them, Utica Mayor David Roefaro said.

A referendum strengthening the city’s residency requirement passed Tuesday, according to unofficial election results.
I think that the voters made the right decision, though I wish the law would be enforced for existing employees as well, since it apparently has been on the books all along.

And there should be NO EXCEPTIONS.

I disagree that this limits the city from getting the "best" employees. The brightest or the most educated employees are not the "best" ones if they regard a city job as merely a stepping stone to something else. . . or they are unwilling to live with the consequences of their own work.

Public employment should not be just a job . . . It is a calling to serve.

City residency will filter out those for whom service to their fellow residents is not an important motivation.

Now, if only the Utica City School District would follow suit!


swimmy said...

Very excellent observation. I can understand some people's reasoning for doing away with the ancient rule. But as you say, sometimes the "best" person for the job does not have two lines of initials following her name. The "best" candidate for a public service job is one who cares about the community she lives in and is willing to do the best that she can to improve her community. By allowing out-of-city residents to hold city-paid positions, while they may have the highest education, they're not fully motivated to do a good job. And often they only received the job because of "political connections" not because they ever were the "best" candidate.

Anonymous said...

The problem, though, is that the Utica area is fairly small. People who live in the Utica suburbs are only a few minutes away from Utica and consider Utica (area) to be their hometown. When people ask me where I'm originally from I usually tell them Utica even though, technically, I'm not. I'm from Clinton. But it's only a 10 minute drive from my parents house in Clinton my my in-laws house in Utica. It takes me almost 20 minutes to drive from my house now to Costco and my house and Costco are in the same city! And what about new hires who have a home outside of Utica? Will they be expected to sell that home and move to Utica? That might be tough, and I don't think it makes financial sense for the new hire. I mean, let's say you have a house that's been in your family for 100 years and you live in Clinton. The house is paid for, but you've lost your job. You have a job offer in Utica but you're told you have to move to Utica to be hired. So now you have to sell your paid for house which is only a few minutes away from Utica, in a housing market that is bad, and move down the road a small bit and either take on a mortgage (which you probably won't be able to get because you've been our of work) or start having to pay rent. Maybe you keep the house but you'll still have to technically live in Utica, so you'll have to pay rent somewhere in the I can see problems with this.

Anonymous said...

Uhhh... the best they can get is if they just hire college grads that aren't married to rent in Kennedy Plaza and attempt to work in the city. Five years later, they'll have something on the resume, and then leave for California or something. Wash rinse repeat.

I can't imagine someone from another region coming here, nor can I see someone already living in the county wanting to change towns as Kim described. Most taxpayers here are a hard-workin' conservative type (or at least Libertarian) and I can imagine slightly liberal social(ist) workers coming here and pulling their hair out talking to the down-to-earth, blue-collar workers.

Greens and Beans said...

Kim – Somehow I think there may be a misconception that may be unnecessarily causing some confusion here. The law (City ordinance) will require only those City of Utica employees (city public employees only) must reside within the city limits. This law does not purport that all people that work within the City limits of Utica must reside in Utica. This would stifle economic development, contribute to costly urban sprawl, and cause employers to relocate to the suburbs.

In a nutshell, this new/old law is essential in terms of having City public employees take a moral and financial stake in the City where they receive a paycheck from. We have experienced City employees, who reside outside of the City of Utica, receive political patronage jobs (some of them costing the City taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year) and these employees have absolutely no vested interest in performing their jobs in the City’s best interest. Other city employees, who are given lower level jobs, are only working for Utica until they can be further rewarded with another higher paying political hack job somewhere else.

Utica suffers from urban blight while its employees are contributing to suburban sprawl. This sprawl contributes to the very expensive water and sewer expansion projects that Utica taxpayers are expected to subsidize. The population of Utica is dwindling. Absentee landlords are allowing Utica real estate to deteriorate. This costs the residents dearly. As the real estate deteriorates arson fires are multiplying. Insurance rates within the city are escalating costing Utica residents more to reside within the city limits. This vicious cycle of deterioration must stop.

It has come down to this: If the prospective City of Utica job seeker cannot afford to relocate to the more affordable residences located within the City of Utica, sadly they cannot afford to seek City of Utica public employment. Anywhere in the US, whenever I was solicited to fill an Urban Manager position, It was not uncommon to be required to take up residence within six months of the commencement of the job, and it was compulsory that I reside within that City’s limits. This was never considered unreasonable.

Kim, you bring up a good point when you point out that the City of Utica does not have a large geographical footprint. The neighboring city of Rome, New York takes up a muchlarger geographical area. However, Utica is in dire need of repair today. If this City ordinance were allowed to continue to be ignored, Utica would assuredly find itself in receivership within the next ten years.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I suspect there are more 'down-to-earth, blue-collar workers' in places such as Clinton than you think. You know what? There are even poor people in Clinton! Really, there are. Trust me...I know!

I left Clinton and moved to Herkimer and then Utica before moving to North Carolina in 1997. Soooo....I'm proof that people from Clinton do actually move to Utica! ;-)

My mother worked for the county...MADISON COUNTY, for 20 plus years. She lived in Clinton, which is in ONEIDA COUNTY! Glad Madison County didn't have any residency requirements.

I don't think someone like the mayor of Utica should live outside the city. It just makes sense for someone who holds an office in a particular city to live in that city. But for anyone else...a janitor for the city, or a police officer, etc, I really don't think it matters that much, especially in such a small city. I really think it'd be great if the entire area could consolidate into one city. I think everyone could benefit.

We don't have any residency requirements here where I live, and nobody seems to have any problem with it...I don't even recall it ever coming up in conversation.

Anonymous said...

Another thing...I live in NC..I have a neighbor who is a Danville, VA. Not only not the same city, but not even the same state! Granted, we only live a half hour from Danville, VA, but still...obviously no residency requirements. and Danville is about the same size ast Utica.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if Strike didn't post this or if it got lost (I was having some computer problems when I tried to post it), so I'm going to retype a comment I made before the one that just got posted and see if it makes it. Here it goes:

Anonymous, I think you'd be surprised at how many 'down-to-earth, blue-collar workers' there are in Clinton. There are even poor people in Clinton! Trust me, this I know for a fact! When I left Clinton I moved to Herkimer for 2 years, then to Utica for one year before moving to NC in 1997. I'm proof people from Clinton will, in fact, move to Utica. ;-) My apartment in Utica was much nicer than the house I lived in in Clinton, too.

I think having residency requirements in a large city, such as Boston, might make sense, but for such a small city like Utica, I just don't see how it makes sense to have a residency requirement. My city doesn't even have any residency requirement for city employees, and our population is about 250,000. By no means a big city, but certainly much bigger than Utica.

Anonymous said...

OhOhOh! One more thing that I forgot to add mom worked for 20 years in Madison County while living in Oneida County. I'm glad Madison County didn't have any residency requirements!

Anonymous said...

I think the whole issue was a cop-out by the administrations failure to make decisions. It sets a terrible precedent to put every controversal issue on a ballot. This is why you have council people to represent the public. This was a non issue. Enforce the law or change the law. What kind of results of a vote did they expect. Stand up Stand up and be clear and make decisions!! Thats what leaders do.