SYRACUSE, NY Syracuse Common Councilors are asking that new hires for Syracuse Police, Syracuse Fire and the DPW be required to live in the city.
On Monday, they unanimously passed a resolution asking the Governor, NY Senate and Assembly to amend the Public Officers’ Law to exempt Syracuse from Residency Requirements that right now do not make the city workers live in Syracuse.
Councilor Helen Hudson sponsored the resolution. Similar requests were made in 1997, 2002 and 2006. According to Hudson, 92% of Syracuse Police do not live in Syracuse (just 36 of 451 are city residents), 67% of Syracuse Firefighters do not live in the city, and about half of the city’s DPW workers live outside the city limits. Hudson says the exemption ‘hurts the city fabric’ . Having more police living in the city, for example, she says would make residents feel safer.
Jeff Piedmonte, with the Syracuse Police Benevolent Association, told councilors ‘this would be a huge problem’ if the residency exemption is repealed. He says preference is given to Syracuse residents in recruiting, but thinks there would be a problem filling vacancies.
Councilor Khalid Bey (4th District) says the reason for asking Albany to act (the exemption was originally enacted to allow NY City public workers to live in less expensive housing) is that the city needs revenues, and having more city residents will go a long way. It’s estimated the city loses $60 million a year because of the residency exemption.
Hudson says she thinks the main reason the city workers choose to live outside Syracuse is because of the schools.
Teachers are also not required to live in the city, and she says the city needs to look more closely at their residency requirements, and school quality issues, as well.