Springfield City Council Considers Closing Residency Requirement Loophole

As part of its budget debate this week, the Springfield City Council is considering setting a six month deadline for all municipal employees to move to the city. Springfield has had a residency requirement for its non-union employees since 1995. But City Council President, James Ferrera, says more than 30 city workers — from department heads to van drivers — have waivers allowing them to live elsewhere. And, he says, that hurts the city’s bottom line.

“They’re not paying property taxes here in the city of Springfield, they’re not paying excise taxes, they’re not contributing to our small businesses we all talk about. They’re taking that taxpayer money and spending it in other communities.”

Ferrera says the salaries for those positions total around two-million dollars. He says he’s proposed including funding for them in the city’s budget for the next six months and terminating employees who don’t move in that time. One downtown business owner, who would only identify himself as Jeff, says that could be limiting.

“I think there’s talent all over so if somebody is talented and they live in Longmeadow they should be able to work in Springfield if they so choose.”

He says the city council’s efforts would be better spent on street level problems, like more evenly distributing police officers. In a statement, Mayor Dominic Sarno has said he maintains his administration’s goal to quote “attract top level talent, who will execute and perform for the taxpayers of Springfield.” Ferrera says he thinks that can be found within Springfield’s city limits. The budget debate is expected to continue through Friday. For New England Public Radio, I’m Leanna First-Arai.