Committee approves new 15-mile residency rule

CREATED May 9, 2013 - UPDATED: May 10, 2013

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MADISON - Only police, fire and emergency workers could be required to live within 15 miles of the city or county where they work under a provision added to the state budget.

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee on Thursday voted to prohibit any more restrictive residency requirements than that.

Gov. Scott Walker proposed doing away with any residency requirements statewide.

The change would most dramatically affect Milwaukee. All Milwaukee city and school district employees must live in the city. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and others strongly oppose removing that.

A vote to remove Walker's proposal in the budget failed on an 8-8 vote. A vote to establish the 15-miles radius passed 12-4 with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed.

Both the police and fire associations responded to the news Thursday night.

"We are incredibly grateful that the members of the JFC and the administration have noticed how archaic Wisconsin's residency rules really are," said Dave Seager, president of the Milwaukee Professional Fire Fighter's Association, Local 215. "This requirement has presented a challenge for many of my members who wish to reside outside of the city to send their children to different schools or to live closer to a spouse's place of employment or an aging parent.

"We are happy with the result of the debate today and are pleased that the committee was able to come to a reasonable compromise. We're looking forward to continuing our part in making Milwaukee a great city to live."

Mile Crivello, president of the Milwaukee Police Association, also released a statement.

"Thank you Governor Walker and the JFC for understanding how unnecessary and arbitrary the residency requirement is. We are pleased that the JFC was able to agree on a final provision that will benefit police officers in Milwaukee and statewide.

"Many of our members have a need to relocate for education or family needs, bu regardless of where they live, every one of my members will still contiue to honorably protect and serve the citizens of Milwaukee."

Barrett says the move is about the police and firefighters' unions and getting payback for assisting Governor Walker in beating the Mayor during two previous gubernatorial races.

"This is a freebie that's there because they supported the governor," Barrett told TODAY'S TMJ4's Steve Chamraz.

"That's what's going on here, and the people of this community have to understand what's going on.  I want the Governor and the legislature to explain why people who work for this city and move out of this city should not pay a dime towards their pension."

The Associated Press, Jay Sorgi, Lacey Crisp, Nick Montes, Steve Chamraz and Jaclyn Brandt contributed to this report.