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Should police, fire chiefs have to live in Tosa?

July 9, 2012

Every couple of years the issue of whether to require certain city employees to live in Wauwatosa comes up - and it's that time again.

The residency requirement "presents challenges in recruiting and retaining top employees," city Human Resources Director Beth Aldana wrote in a memo to the Employee Relations Committee.

She will ask the committee today for the OK to come up with a revised ordinance that would allow more flexibility for positions in which response times are critical.

People holding the following positions must live in Wauwatosa: city administrator, city attorney, public works director, finance director, police chief and fire chief.

There are many more positions that require residency, however waivers can be granted if response time would be similar or if dropping the restriction would attract the best candidate for the position. Those jobs are the public works operations, fleet/electric, water and parks and forestry superintendents; city engineer; city assessor; city clerk; chief building inspector; library director; and health department director.

The assistant fire chiefs must live within three miles of the city and the public works and water supervisors must live within 12 miles of the city, as the ordinance stands.

At this time, the following employees actually live in Wauwatosa: the public works director and operations superintendent, the police and fire chiefs, two assistant fire chiefs, the city engineer and the library director. The rest live outside the city, having had the requirement waived.

The city frequently has revisited the residency requirements, with it last coming up in November, 2010. At that time, the committee voted, 3-2, against lifting restrictions.

Only one of those members - Alderwoman Cheryl Berdan - remains on the committee, and she supported removing residency requirements.

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