Council to debate Harrisburg's residency requirement - abc27 WHTM

Council to debate Harrisburg's residency requirement

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The clock is ticking for Harrisburg to approve a new plan to get the city out of debt. The state receiver's new proposal goes before a Commonwealth Court judge in less than two weeks. There are several parts of that plan council will consider this week.

Monday, council will hold a hearing on eliminating what some call an "antiquated" residency requirement for city employees.

In order to be on the police force, officers have to live in Harrisburg. Police and the city's receiver reached a deal in June that would get rid of that requirement, but it first needs approval from city council.

The residency requirement is a long-standing rule that councilman Brad Koplinski said has been around for too long.

"Residency in some ways is an antiquated political tactic to make sure that...if you live in the city, well then you could vote for someone who's running for office in the city," Koplinski said.

Removing the residency requirement is part of the receiver's plan to get Harrisburg out of debt.

Koplinski said the fire, police, and non-uniformed personnel unions gave up $4 million in exchange for the residency change.

"I appreciate the unions for really taking a hit and playing their part in making sure that the receiver's plan helps us get to a point where we can become whole again," Koplinski said.

But another issue remains. Does the residency requirement keep city residents safer? Some city residents believe it does.

"The ones in the city actually know what's going on and someone else outside really don't know what's going on," said Jasmine Livingston.

Others don't see it as an issue.

"I don't really see how there could be any downside. I mean it's just basically just a larger pool to pick better candidates out for the people that are protecting and serving us. I don't see an issue with it," said Isaac Shatz.

"Personally, I don't believe that it matters if someone lives in the city or ten miles away from the city. That doesn't diminish their commitment to Harrisburg and I don't feel any less safe because someone isn't within the city limits," said Koplinski.

Koplinski also said he expects a robust discussion of the pros and cons Monday. But in the end, he thinks the residency requirement will be lifted. A vote is expected on September 16.

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