Four aldermen are trying to get city employees to live in New Haven.
The aldermen have submitted a proposal to the board for a program called HomeWork that, in addition to attempting to establish a residency requirement for all applicants for city jobs, also hopes to make city employees who don’t live in New Haven give a “community contribution” of 5 percent of their salary to the city. Ward 30 Alderman Darnell Goldson, who came up with the idea, said the program is a way to address the city’s financial problems with raising taxes, as Mayor John DeStefano Jr. has proposed.
But for a city residency requirement to take effect, the state would have to overturn a 1989 ban on local governments requiring their employees to live in their municipalities. Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield said there is “a lot of vested interest in keeping [the state law] in place.” The four aldermen — Gerald Antunes of Ward 12, Gina Calder ’03 EPH ’08 of Ward 2 and Jacqueline James-Evans of Ward 3, in addition to Goldson — have asked the Board of Aldermen to encourage the state legislature to lift the ban.
Both Ward 1 Alderman Mike Jones ’11 and Goldfield said they support more city employees being New Haven residents. Goldfield and Jones said police officers who live in the neighborhoods they patrol tend to be more effective in their jobs. Goldfield said having teachers who are not New Haven residents sends the message to city school children that their schools are not good enough for their teacher’s children.
According to the proposal, only 37 percent of city employees live in New Haven, and non-resident city employees receive $156 million of the city payroll each year. Only 13 percent of police officers live in the city.
“City workers have to give back,” Goldson said.
Another element of Goldson’s proposal would give civil service exam takers who both live in New Haven and have graduated from a city high school 10 extra points on the test. City residents already receive 5 extra points. For city employees who move into New Haven during the calendar year in which the ordinance passes, the city would provide an automobile tax credit for the following fiscal year. Given that there are nine city union contract negotiations coming up in fiscal year 2010-’11, Goldson said he wants to include the community contribution in union contracts.
Ward 4 Alderwoman Andrea Jackson-Brooks said that if the city wants to change the state law, it should first find a state sponsor to push for the change. Goldson said he has been talking with the local state delegation.
City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said Sunday that DeStefano declined to comment on the proposal.