Councilors, Public Debate Proposed Residency Law

OSWEGO, NY – The Common Council voted unanimously to set public hearing for proposed Local Law No. 4 of the Year 2015 – a local law amending Section C2-01 of the Charter of the city of Oswego with respect to (the residency of) city officers and employees.

The law would require certain new city employees to live in the city.

However, support for the proposed law itself isn’t as strong.

Even though an official public hearing won’t take place until next month, some residents took to the microphone during Monday night’s public session to express their concerns with the proposal.

“I’m here to advise you not to change the city worker residency requirement. Do not restrict them to live in the city,” Michael Goldych told the councilors. “We live in a community that is alive and vibrant.”

Donald Cram said he wanted to speak against the proposal as well.

He was subjected to a city residency requirement in the past, he said.

“Here in Oswego, I think that somebody who lives just the other side of City Line Road, it’s not going to make a difference whether they experience Oswego or not,” he said. In Oswego, you might not think that affordability is much of an issue. You can find places to live in the city. But, I think that it probably can be an issue for somebody.”

He suggested perhaps giving the employee some sort of small financial incentive to live in the city.

Steve Phillips said he wasn’t either for or against the proposal; he’d just like “people to choose to live in the city instead of forcing them to do it.”

If Oswego improved its neighborhoods and housing stock, more people would be willing to move into Oswego, he added.

“I agree if we want to encourage people to live here, we need to improve our housing stock,” Seventh Ward Councilor Ron Kaplewicz said.

But some folks want to live in the county “and I think we ought to give them the right to live in the country if they want to,” he added.

“If there was a $40,000 to $60,000 a year job, would you like to move into this city for one of them?” asked Fourth Ward Councilor Shawn Walker. He had proposed the local law at a recent committee meeting. “Most people would. And, the taxpayers pay that salary. They should live in this city if they’re going to be paid by the taxpayers.”

First Ward Councilor Fran Enwright agreed with Councilor Kaplewicz.

“If we want people to come and live in the city, let’s do something to entice them to move here,” he said. “We shouldn’t require them. If we want to attract people, let’s spend money on code enforcement, let’s make this city attractive, clean up some of these depressed areas. Let’s improve the city.”

Third Ward Councilor Mike Todd said he agrees with Councilor Walker in principle.

“But, you’ve got a right to live where you want to live,” he said. “If people choose not to live here based on our quality of housing, or our school district or the rate of our taxes; that’s on us. We need to improve our neighborhoods. We need to improve our quality of life. We need to improve our school district to make is so people want to come here and live.”

The city is making strides in that direction, he pointed out.

“We’re not forcing anybody to live here,” Walker said. “There is enough city residents here that need a job; they will work for a job and will stay within the city.”

The public hearing will be held on May 11 at 7:10 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 13 W. Oneida St.