Sunday, January 13, 2013

Residency Requirements And You

As I was reading this week's City Notes in the Post Crescent, an issue caught my eye. The city is having a hard time filling its vacant information technology director position because of a requirement that city department leaders have to be residents of the city of Appleton.

In the story, Mayor Hanna says "We have candidates that live in the area, but can’t justify selling their house and moving half a mile into the city limits. There’s a lot at stake for the city." This is an issue that's flared up before and the city council recently voted to keep the requirement based on the notion that department heads are somehow more better equipped to work for the city when "they have more skin in the game."

I think the notion that department heads' performance is somehow impacted by where they live is kind of silly. We're talking about high profile, highly qualified professionals here applying for heavily scrutinized jobs. The kind of person who would slack off on the job just because they're not an Appleton taxpayer probably isn't likely to be a candidate for these positions in the first place.

Furthermore, this search is costing the city by the day. The new Parks and Recreation website (which is great, by the way) was built out-of-house because it was too big of a project for the city's existing staff to handle. The city has also already spent over $4000 flying in candidates to interview for this position without finding someone to fill the job.

To a point I can understand the city's motive to try to find a talented person who lives in the city instead of bringing in someone from outside. But making an exception to the rule to hire a candidate who lives in a neighboring community seems like common sense. It'd be a shame for the city to miss out on the best candidate for the job just because they don't want to have to sell their house and move.

From my perspective it sounds like the city is missing out on qualified candidates because they live just outside the city. If that's the case, then I think their priorities are strongly misplaced here. This is a policy I'll be in favor of changing if I'm elected.

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