Public weighs in on long-debated residency requirement for York employees

York

YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — Employers want their people to shoot for the stars, but employees in York have long been limited — to city limits.

City of York employees are currently required to live in the city, but that may change with a new ordinance proposed by Mayor Michael Helfrich.

On Monday, the ordinance was discussed and heard by the city council for the first time in a public setting.

The issue is completely separate from the residency requirements for department heads, which is directly impacting Fire Chief Chad Deardorff. This ordinance only addresses about 90 city employees who aren’t unionized but showed up in unity at the meeting.

“Come on people, it’s a no-brainer. We just need to do the right thing,” said Monica Kruger, a city employee.

The residency requirement has come up many times in York’s history.

“If you go through meeting minute notes, we’re pretty much duplicating the exact conversation that was had in 1984,” said Philip Given, acting director of economic development.

The 1980s is where a lot of cities left their residency requirements. Given said the only comparable city with the same requirement is Scranton, which has a much larger geographical area.

He said the requirement was made with good intentions but often yields bad results.

“[Employees] may commit to moving to the city and then they just don’t, and they leave after 6 to 12 months on the job, which creates a very costly, repetitive process for human resources,” Given said.

Most people in the crowd agreed that the right ZIP code doesn’t guarantee the right person for the job.

“As a resident and a taxpayer, I want the best person for the job, regardless of where they live,” one woman said.

“Did my nursing skill set diminish because I crossed the line between York and Lancaster County? I would think not,” said Chastity Frederick, an RN for the city.

Vacant positions were also a big concern for people in support of the ordinance.

“We have funds available to sustain positions without cost to the city, and we cannot fill those positions due to the residency requirement,” Frederick said.

Not everyone is on board. Several residents fear that lifting the requirement will zap the city of already tapped resources.

“We’re dying. We don’t want to turn into another Detroit, but we need to change what we’re doing rather than continue or make it worse and have all this money leave the city,” said Jim Norman, a city resident.

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