Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dear residents,

The City of Milwaukee needs your help with an issue that's of critical importance to our future.

Since 1938, Milwaukee has required all city employees to live within its municipal boundaries. The residency requirement has helped maintain a strong middle class in our neighborhoods, bolstered property values and ensured that municipal employees live among the people they serve.

But now, Governor Scott Walker is proposing in his state budget to do away with residency laws, potentially thwarting the local control of cities, villages, towns and counties. If the state legislature signs off on his proposal, it could destabilize Milwaukee, the key economic engine for the entire state.

Your action is needed to help ensure that Milwaukee retains the ability to determine its own future.

On Thursday, April 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., state lawmakers from the Joint Finance Committee will be holding a public hearing at the Greendale High School auditorium, 6801 Southway, to get feedback on this and other budget proposals. Please, if you are able, make plans to attend, register to speak and make your voice heard on this important issue. You can also send written comments to BudgetComments@legis.wisconsin.gov.

Additionally, concerned residents can write letters to their elected representatives and to members of the Joint Finance Committee in the State Capitol expressing their opposition to Governor Walker's plan to do away with residency. Those who have friends and family who are represented in the state legislature by Republicans can ask those acquaintances to write letters as well. You can find below a list of contact information for Joint Finance Committee members, as well as a list of reasons to support residency.

If lawmakers hear a serious outcry from residents, particularly those from Republican-controlled parts of the state, the chances are greater that the legislature will remove the Governor's residency proposal from the state budget.

Thank you for your concern and your action, Alderman Nik Kovac

Wisconsin State Legislature Joint Committee on Finance Contact Information

Senator Alberta Darling, Co-Chair
(608) 266-5830
Sen.Darling@legis.wisconsin.gov

Senator Mary Lazich
Sen.lazich@legis.wisconsin.gov

Senator Luther Olsen
Sen.Olsen@legis.wisconsin.gov

Senator Glenn Grothman
Sen.Grothman@legis.wisconsin.gov

Senator Sheila Harsdorf
Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wisconsin.gov

Senator Joe Leibham
Sen.Leibham@legis.wisconsin.gov

Senator Robert Wirch
Sen.Wirch@legis.wisconsin.gov

Senator Jennifer Shilling
Sen.Shilling@legis.wisconsin.gov

All Senators mailing address: PO Box 7882,
Madison, WI 53707-7882

Representative John Nygren, Co-Chair
(608) 266-2343
Rep.Nygren@legis.wisconsin.gov

Representative Pat Strachota
Rep.Strachota@legis.wisconsin.gov

Representative Dale Kooyenga
Rep.Kooyenga@legis.wisconsin.gov

Representative Dan LeMahieu
Rep.LeMahieu@legis.wisconsin.gov

Representative Dean Knudson
Rep.Knudson@legis.wisconsin.gov

Representative John Klenke
Rep.Klenke@legis.wisconsin.gov

Representative Cory Mason
Rep.Mason@legis.wisconsin.gov

Representative Jon Richards
Rep.Richards@legis.wisconsin.gov

All Reps with last names A-L: PO Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708

All Reps with last names M-Z: PO Box 8953,
Madison, WI 53708

Milwaukee's Residency Requirement

The City of Milwaukee has had a residency requirement in place since 1938. All applicants to city positions are clearly informed of the requirement up front, and the City does not have any difficulty attracting quality applicants or retaining its employees as a result.

Right now, our goal is to ask members of the Joint Committee on Finance to recognize the provision as non-fiscal policy and to require that it be heard through the regular legislative committee process, because:

1. Residency is not fiscal policy and should not be included in the state budget. This issue should be fully vetted in the regular committee process so that Milwaukee and other affected communities can fully testify to the impact.

2. Residency concerns are a matter of local control and should be fashioned according to local market conditions and local economic factors that state legislators may not be fully aware of.

3. Residency requirements are a condition of employment. The state would never dictate the terms of employment for a private employer (e.g. Drug testing). Private employers (e.g. Consulting firms) and other public employers (e.g. Military) set location and relocation requirements all the time.

4. In Milwaukee, residency requirements are a valuable economic provision in collective bargaining contracts with Police and Fire employees. If the unions get this change legislatively for free, city taxpayers (including businesses) stand to lose millions of dollars of value that could have been exchanged at the bargaining table. The city is at the table with all three public safety unions right now.

5. The health of the Milwaukee-area economy and the health of the City of Milwaukee's economy are interdependent. Milwaukee has done a good job of retaining population and middle class residents in comparison with its peer cities. The residency policy helps stabilize and build confidence in our neighborhoods and promotes public safety and property value for our residents and businesses. This serves to strengthen our region as a whole.

6. This is bad timing given the impact of the foreclosure crisis on city property values. Milwaukee has already lost $5 billion in value. Why run the risk of pushing values further down? City property values have a ripple effect on the values of the entire region.

7. Many local business leaders lead companies that are invested in the City through their corporate real estate holdings and client bases. We have a collective responsibility to ensure that the full impact of important policies affecting our region is understood by our policy makers.

8. Police-community relations have recently been strained in Milwaukee with a couple of high profile events. Removing the police officers from living in the community they serve is certain to add to community concerns about the force.