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Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 05:53 pm

Firefighters endorse residency deal

Contract would require 15 years in city

Call it residency lite.

Springfield firefighters have ratified a contract with the city that would require new hires to live within city limits for 15 years. After that, they could live wherever they choose.

“No one should be disappointed, no one should be gleeful,” said Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin. “Government is the art of compromise.”

Mayor Jim Langfelder agreed. The mayor has pushed for stricter residency requirements for city workers so that new hires would be required to live within city limits when they start employment.

“It’s most definitely a compromise,” Langfelder said. “We did have some give-and-take on that. … The new hires, they want that good quality job, they should be willing to make that commitment to Springfield for 15 years.”

The five-year deal, retroactive to 2016, when the prior contract expired, includes raises totaling 8 percent, with 2 percent of the increases considered bonuses that would not be included in pension calculations, Langfelder said. A final city council vote on the contract is expected next month.

Langfelder had made residency an issue in the 2015 election. In 2016, the city council in a 6-4 vote approved a residency requirement for new hires. Most unions have agreed to residency requirements for new hires, but the police union has successfully fought residency, winning a 2017 arbitration decision that rejected a city demand for residency for new hires.

According to a 2015 report by the State Journal-Register, 30 percent of city police officers lived outside city limits in 2015 and 45 percent of firefighters lived outside Springfield that year.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.


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