OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Monday night, the Common Council approved Local Law No. 1 of the Year 2016 – a local law repealing Section C2-01 of the Charter of the City of Oswego, with respect to city officers and employees.
City employees will no longer be bound to live within the city as a condition of their employment.
The vote was 6-1 with Council President Shawn Walker casting the lone nay vote.
Walker had crusaded for years to get the residency clause included as an employment requirement.
Following the meeting he expressed disappointment at the clause being repealed.
“I still believe that if you work for the city, you should live in the city,” he said. City taxpayers are paying your salary.”
However, if he were in the mayor’s position he might see things differently, he acquiesced.
Monday night, Mayor William Barlow reiterated that the residency clause had the potential to hamstring the city in the hiring process.
He said he doesn’t want to settle for second best, or possibly the third best, candidate because of where a potential employee sleeps at night.
“I’ve found that we are somewhat hindered by this policy. The city should be looking to hire the best, the sharpest and most talented employees it can no matter where they live,” he said.
To not do that would be a disservice to the city and taxpayers, he added.
City resident Tom Ciappa, the lone speaker at the public hearing, sided with Walker.
“You’re trying to build a community; trying to build the fabric of the community. Having employees living in the community would make a big difference,” he said.
The taxpayers are investing in these (employees) and should get something from them, he added.
If they live elsewhere, Oswego loses tax dollars on real estate and other things, he said.
“I want someone who’s going to take the job that’s also going to invest in this community,” he told the councilors. “I think you should consider that in every move that you make.”
As mayor, Barlow said he encourages people to live in the city.