Tuesday, March 22, 2011

City Of Milwaukee Fact Sheet On Residency

The City Department of Administration releases some history about residency for City of Milwaukee employees - - a policy that worked well for more than 70 years.

[Also - - see a Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau paper on home rule, here.] 

And the City brings forward plenty of supporting economic data. And evidence that residency presents no barrier to employment, as argued by a misinformed and talking-point laden State Senate Scott Walker ally from the suburbs determined butt into local Milwaukee policy-making to fix a problem that doesn't exist (hint: the real issues are political).

Mayor Barrett used this in State Senate testimony Tuesday opposing legislation aimed to roll back the residency requirement.

Reproduced in its entirety, below:


Legal Precedence

The ability of Wisconsin municipalities to determine their local affairs is delineated in the State Constitution and reinforced in State Statute.

Employee residency rules are a condition of employment and not a matter of statewide concern, and should therefore be subject to local control.

The United States Supreme Court has upheld city residency requirements, ruling in McCarthy v. Philadelphia Civil Service Commission (1976) that they do not violate the due process clause, the equal protection clause, or the right to travel interstate.

Human Resources

All City of Milwaukee employees have been subject to city residency since the requirement was adopted by charter ordinance in 1938.

Each applicant to city employment is clearly informed of the requirement to establish residency within six months of hire and throughout employment as a condition of employment and still chooses to apply.

Our residency requirement has not impeded our ability to attract quality candidates to city positions.  Since January 1, 2010, we received 8,647 applications and 205 positions have been filled in the same time period. 

The ratio of applicants per hire varies widely among job classifications but averages at 42 applications per hire.

From 2008-2010, the city received 17,563 job applications for general city positions.

86% of applicants were already Milwaukee residents.

In our most recent recruitments, the city received 5,711 applications for the position of firefighter and 3,569 applications for the position of police officer.

Our residency requirement has not impeded our ability to retain quality city employees.

The voluntary separation rate measures an employee’s willingness or ability to change jobs.

The citywide rate was 1.2% or 83 resignations in 2010. 66 of these resignations were non-sworn and 17 were sworn employees.

The City Service Commission reviews and approves temporary residency waivers for hardship.  In the past 10 years, it has granted all 106 requests it has received.

The Fire and Police Commission also reviews requests for temporary residency waivers and has approved 23 of 25 such requests in the past 5 years.

In 1997, the City implemented a hardship waiver of the residency requirement for employees whose spouses are subject to residency in other jurisdictions. Only 2 have since been requested and issued by the Fire and Police Commission and none by the City Service Commission.

Collective Bargaining

Even considering 2011 Act 10, residency is still a mandatory subject of collective bargaining for public safety employees in Wis. Stat. §111.70.

The city’s residency requirement has been an ongoing topic of contract negotiations between the city and the vast majority of its collective bargaining units since the adoption of bargaining laws in 1959.

Residency has been arbitrated at least twice with both the Milwaukee Police Association and the Milwaukee Police Supervisors Organization. In each case the arbitrator has not found their argument to be compelling and has sided with the city.

Eliminating or weakening the residency requirement through any means other than collective bargaining would not provide any quid pro quo of value in exchange for the magnitude of the change.

In a recent interest arbitration award decision, the arbitrator determined that an offer by the Milwaukee Police Supervisors Organization to require any member who moved into a five-county area take a 2% decrease in base wages, was insufficient quid pro quo.

City Employee Demographics

The City of Milwaukee currently employs 6,865 employees. 

4,168 are general city employees (including fire and police civilian staff)

2,697 are sworn fire and police employees

These 6,865 city jobs strengthen Milwaukee’s middle class with family supporting incomes, as illustrated by their average annual salaries.

$41,361 for general city employees

$65,649 for sworn police employees

$67,554 for sworn fire employees

84.5% of city employees live in owner-occupied residences, well above the city-wide owner-occupancy rate (measured by match between the address on deed and the property address).
80.2% of general city employees

91.1% of sworn fire and police employees

71.8% of all city residential properties

The average assessed value of a city employee owned residence is $147,634, or 20% above the average assessed value in the city.

$133,103 for general city employees

$166,732 for sworn fire and police employees

$123,000 for the average residential home value

50.1% of city retirees and their families live outside the city.

This amounts to $11.4 million in out-migration of gross pension income.

Residency Requirements in Other Jurisdictions

At least 127 other municipalities in Wisconsin have some type of residency requirement as a condition of employment. The requirements vary widely, according to unique local circumstances, labor markets and collective bargaining contracts.

Milwaukee County requires residence within the County, with limited exceptions granted by the Civil Service Commission or HR Director for those in technical and scientific positions.

Certificated Milwaukee Public Schools employees have been subject to residency requirements since it was negotiated into a contract between the school board and teachers in 1977.

It was negotiated in exchange for early retirement.

It only applied to teachers hired after the contract was adopted.

Prior to this change, 60% of MPS teachers lived outside the city.

Residency requirements have also been repealed in several cities.

Toledo repealed in 2009, 24% now live outside the city.

Minneapolis repealed in 1999, 70% now live outside the city.

Detroit repealed in 1999, 45% now live outside the city.

Projected Economic Impact

If our residency requirement is lifted, we estimate that 50% of city employees would migrate out of the city over a ten year period, based on experience of similar cities and our actual retiree behavior.

Out-migration of 50% of city employee households would amount to approximately 8,753 individuals. 

Milwaukee’s average household size is 2.55 according to the 2008 American Community Survey.

Neighborhoods with high concentrations of city employees will be especially vulnerable (see the attached map).

As employees leave the City, they will take their families and income with them and sell their houses.

Area income will fall leading to a reduction in purchases.

Reduced purchases may lead to business closings or employment reductions.
Housing values will fall as the supply of houses being sold in the market increases.

Falling property values will lead to higher property tax rates.

Higher property tax rates will impact business production and employment level.
Economic activity in the City will decrease.

Public Safety

When mobilizing personnel for winter weather events that jeopardize public safety, response time is critical.  Streets must be treated as quickly as possible to minimize glazing and bonding conditions. 

It already takes 2.5 to 3 hours for all 90 of the city’s first responder salt trucks to report, load and be dispatched to their routes and a delay in this timeframe is not tolerable.

The Blizzard of 2011 on February 2nd produced 20 inches of snow and 44 mph winds and required DPW plow drivers to take their trucks home in order to safely get to their routes during the storm.

Response time is also critical issue during emergencies and for potential homeland security events.

Our residency requirement puts our public safety personnel in a position to provide emergency services to their neighbors and community even when they are off-duty.

Community Relations

Residency requirements encourage city employees to provide better results for city residents since city employees are invested in the success of city services.
Police–community relations are a delicate topic in the city.

Having our police officers as members of the community strengthens their knowledge of challenges facing city residents and enhances their relationships with neighborhoods and residents.

If many police officers move outside the city, it may decrease their legitimacy in the eyes of city residents.


jpk said...

It's a good wrap-up, but there's a major point missing IMO.

Ethically, the jobs a government provides should be offered to its own constituents first and foremost.

For example, WI residents should be offered WI state jobs before MI or IL residents. Similar for municipalities and the fed.

It's why the president should be from the USA, and not somewhere else. You'd think the birthers would appreciate residency requirements!

Alas, residency "requirement" sounds so bad. In reality the requirement is really a "benefit" to a municipality's constituents.

Anonymous said...

It seems that one of Barrett's major talking points is that the retention rate has not been a problem with the restriction, and that plenty of people of wanted to move to Milwaukee to get these jobs.

So if so many people love Milwaukee enough to move there and get a job with the city, then why is everyone so sure that all the employees are going to flee once the requirement goes away?

Seems difficult to argue that the residency requirement has made it both easy to recruit people, and that people will want to leave.

In the end, I guess I just don't understand people's overwhelming desire to restrict the freedom of others.

Anonymous said...

The word "freedom" seems to stop at the job, yet you have the "Freedom" to accept the job rules or move on...Same w/ a union shop.. you have the freedom to take the job or not. IF you don't, I think your pointing your finger in the wrong direction..
I'm AMAZED at how few people get this.