Council changes residency requirement

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Although exceptions can be made, when it comes to a city manager and department heads working in Washington, expect them to live in the city.

During its Nov. 24 meeting, the Washington City Council unanimously amended the City Code to require the city manager and any employee hired or promoted to department-head level to live within the city limits. The amendment also includes a new statement of purpose for the residency requirement.

“As part of the things we are doing, we were asked to take a look at some of the existing codes, policies and procedures and bring back some recommendations if we thought there needed to be some changes to those,” City Manager Brian Alligood said. “Based on our conversations internally with some of our (people), we’ve run into some recruiting issues, and also with our looking at hiring a new planner, there’s been some inconsistency across of the board, kind of, with who’s required to live in the city, who’s not.”

Alligood recommended the council change the City Code.

“It’s more about being invested in the community, understanding the community. If we had someone who was the next, essentially, in line, the best person to go into the next slot and they lived just outside the city, would you deny the opportunity to be promoted to that position?” Alligood said.

The new requirements section of Chapter 24, Article II of the City Code now reads as follows: “The City Manager and any employee hired or promoted at the Department Head level (Administrative Services Director, Community and Cultural Resources Director, Electric Director, Police and Fire Services Director, Public Works Director) shall ordinarily be required to live within the corporate limits of the City within twelve (12) months of appointment and maintain such residency for the duration of employment in such capacity with the City. Any exception made to this ordinance shall be consistent with the purpose of these requirements as stated in Section 24-21 above and approved by City Council.”

The new purpose for the residency requirement reads as follows: “The City Council hereby establishes a residency requirement for the rational purpose of enhancement of the quality of employee performance by greater personal knowledge of his or her scope of responsibility and existing City conditions.”

Under the former residency requirements, all emergency responders (except fire-rescue-EMS command officers) were required to live within 20 road miles of the city limits. That included emergency responders in the former Fire-Rescue-EMS-Inspections Department, Washington Electric Utilities, police detectives and all on-call positions in the Public Works Department. Any active employee who was employed in any position with the city prior to the effective date of that ordinance from which this section was derived was grandfathered.

The former residency requirements mandated that fire-rescue-EMS-inspection command officers live within 10 road miles of the city limits. Fire department employees hired before the effective date of the former residency requirements were grandfathered.






About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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