Residency requirement for employees proposed 59% of police force lives outside city


A Baltimore City Council resolution introduced last night calls on Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to issue an executive order requiring that all new municipal employees live within the city's boundaries.

Clinton R. Coleman, spokesman for Mr. Schmoke, said that the mayor "supports the intention of the resolution" and is "working with the city solicitor to work out some legal issues" concerning the proposal.

Baltimore currently gives preference in hiring to city residents, Mr. Coleman said. Potential new employees who live outside the city must get a waiver from the mayor before they can be hired, he said.

But, he said, several months ago Mr. Schmoke complained to agency heads that he was seeing "far too many requests" for waivers.

The City Charter requires all board chairpersons and department heads to be city residents, and Fire Department policy requires newly hired firefighters to live in the city, according to the resolution and several council members.

Last night's City Council resolution asks for an executive order mandating that all new employees of the city and the Police Department -- which is a state agency -- become city residents within three months after they are hired.

Councilwoman Sheila Dixon, D-4th, the resolution's chief sponsor, said 59 percent of the city's nearly 3,000 sworn police officers live outside the city and noted that "police officers who live in the city are more sensitive to issues in the city."

The resolution is particularly appropriate in light of Mr. Schmoke's proposal to raise the city's piggyback income tax rate from 50 percent to 52 percent to hire an additional 120 police officers, she argued. "Fair is fair. Why benefit from working here and go out to the counties [to live] and pay less in property taxes and piggyback taxes?" Ms. Dixon said.

A move to immediately adopt the resolution without a committee hearing was defeated. Some council members said they wanted to hear how the residency requirement would affect various agencies, while others said the wording of the resolution needed to be strengthened to demand that workers continue to live in the city during the time of their employment.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad