Letters to the Editor 9/27/12
LIVING FOR THE CITY
On Nov. 6, Springfield residents will have an important opportunity to vote on an advisory referendum to reinstate the residency requirement for new Springfield city employees. Residency is a vital issue with significant economic impact. Our city workers are well paid. By living in the city, they can contribute to our tax base, help preserve neighborhoods and support our local schools and businesses. Please speak up on this issue, give guidance to our city council and vote yes.
In the years since the city council repealed the residency requirement in 2000, a disturbing trend has developed – large numbers of city workers are moving out of the city limits. Of the 1,508 current city employees, 533, or 35 percent, now live outside of the city, including half our firefighters.
The median income for city workers is now about $70,000. So $70,000 times 500 employees is a large annual loss of our tax money going off to our surrounding villages and towns – $35 million – repeated every year. That is an exodus of our city-derived taxes. It is Springfield’s wealth and prosperity leaving each payday. It makes better sense to keep our city taxes that pay city wages circulating within our Springfield economy to produce economic activity and taxes that will support city services.
In the interest of maintaining our neighborhoods and the tax base that creates and preserves the quality of our city, requiring residency is a reasonable requirement in a tough economy. The proposed residency rule would exclude current employees. The proposal is to require new employees to live in the city. If we then maintain that requirement over time, then eventually all city employees would become city residents again. New employees can exercise their freedom to either accept the residency requirement or decline the job and let it go to someone else who will commit to Springfield.
Many disagree with our mayor who has said it would be expensive to negotiate a residency requirement with each union. He reasons that they will demand salary increases in exchange. Unions negotiate for the employees they have, and the residency requirement is for new hires only. The city is in a stronger negotiating position than the mayor says. And there are union leaders who agree that a residency requirement for new hires is fair and reasonable.
Please vote yes on the advisory referendum to require new city hires to reside in the city. Vote yes so that new hires support the community that pays their wages and benefits. In addition, tell all your friends and family members to vote yes. This is important to our city’s future. Thank you.
Alderman, Ward 7
HELLO? … WE’RE HERE
I just read with interest a letter from Patricia Gietl (Letters, “Outsource Illinois,” Sept. 20) indicating that the call center of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations, where I am employed, has been outsourced to Florida. That’s news to me. I’ve been an employee of this agency for several years and I can tell you, our call center is right here, in this building, in Springfield, Ill. I admit it is difficult for applicants to get through due to the large volume of calls that are answered on a daily basis, but the center is in fact here. Always has been, always will be.
IDFPR Office Coordinator
Note: The call center for the department itself remains in Springfield, but the department’s mortgage fraud hotline has been contracted to a company operating in Jacksonville, Fla.