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Oswego votes to remove residency requirement for city employees

Gino Geruntino
WRVO News File Photo

The Oswego Common Council is repealing a recently enacted law that requires city employees to live within 15 miles of downtown Oswego. In a 6-1 vote Monday, the council voted to repeal the residency requirement almost a year after it was added to the charter. Mayor Billy Barlow said it's a burden to families who may have to live in another area that has the services their families need. And, he said it hinders the hiring process.

"Of course I prefer people who work for the city to live in the city, but I’m not going to short the city of Oswego on talent just because of where somebody sleeps at night," Barlow said.

Council Chairman Shawn Walker, who led the effort to add the residency requirement to the city's charter for 5 years, was the lone vote against repealing it.

"Move to the city if you want a job," Walker said. "That's the way I looked at it."

One of the council's four new members, John Gosek, said those who live in Oswego should get preferential treatment, but it shouldn't eliminate other candidates.  

"I would like to see the vast majority of jobs go to local people because I think we have qualified people, but, if we can’t acquire them here, then we need to broaden our search," Gosek said.

Gosek is working with the city's attorney to see if a point system rewarding locals could be implemented into the hiring process. Still, resident Tom Ciappa said by removing the requirement it takes tax money away from Oswego.

"I want the people who hold these positions to be invested in the community," Ciappa said.

Barlow said he would be open to considering a point system if the council moves that direction. Syracuse requires its city employees to live within city limits, but state law does exempt firefighters, police officers and sanitation workers.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.