Recently in Boston, Mayor Martin Walsh passed an ordinance into law that stated all municipal employees that started after July 1, 1976 must live and be a registered voter in the city. A spokesperson for the mayor, Bonnie McGilpan, released a statement to the press on the third week of March to inform citizens of the change. This is not the first time city employees have faced this type of legal issue. In fact, the original ordinance that required them to reside in Boston was first drafted in 1976 and placed within the city’s municipal code. The difference is that Walsh’s administration is the first to enforce this law since then.
The ordinance states that the mayor will have the authority to overrule the requirements if need be. According to the Daily Free Press, the only way for this to be waived is if the position “requires a unique set of skills, which without lifting the residency requirement, would render the position difficult to fill within a reasonable time.” The only loophole of the current ordinance is in regards to the Boston Police and Fire Department. Commanding staff of the police department and senior management within the fire department who have resided in the city for over a decade.
Residents of the city are torn on if the ordinance is a positive or negative move for their city though. Many feel that they should not be required to live within the city limits where the prices for real estate and property can be substantially more expensive than the town next door. Over the past decade, property prices have sharply increased as people have moved out of pricer neighbors like New York City. Rent prices have risen 4% from last year alone.
Others feel that municipal workers will understand the city and it’s residents more if they are required to live here. Workers will experience the highs and lows that other citizens face on a daily basis. The only thing citizens want ensured is that the ordinance will affect municipal works on every level and that no one should be exempt – even if they are a high ranking official.
Mayor Walsh pushed this new law through after the recommendation of the Residency Policy Commission. He released a statement about it saying: “I appointed a Residency Policy Commission to do an exhaustive look aimed at modernizing our residency policies, because we know consistent residency policies are an important tool to balance the workforce that represents our city, and recruiting and retaining top talent. I am grateful for the commission’s recommendations, and this ordinance represents a new era of consistency, enforcement and fairness within city government.”