CITY HALL – There’s pushback in the Board of Aldermen over an effort to pass state legislation that would end the residency requirement for city employees, and against Mayor Lyda Krewson’s support of that proposal.
First Ward Alderwoman Sharon Tyus introduced a resolution on Friday opposing the state’s interceding in what she contends is a strictly local decision on public officials’ residency.
The resolution notes that aldermen voted in September against a bill that would have submitted a ballot issue to voters asking whether the residency requirement for all city employees should end. It also notes that Krewson, Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards, and Police Commissioner John Hayden traveled to Jefferson City this month to support the state legislation proposal.
“This is a purely local issue,” Tyus said. “She [the mayor] should learn how to work with us.”
In addition, the resolution said that several times in the last 30 years, St. Louisans had voted down ballot issues to end the residency requirement for police and others.
Jacob Long, Krewson’s director of communications, said Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt had announced a 2020 legislative package that included an effort to end the city’s residency requirement for police at the state level.
“The Mayor’s Office did not initiate that, but as the mayor has said and testified, she supports lifting the residency requirement for police and all city workers,” Long said in an email.
The Board of Aldermen’s Engrossment, Rules, Resolutions and Credentials Committee, which Tyus chairs, will discuss the bill at a meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Leisure Room of City Hall.
Tyus said she believed the resolution would pass easily at Friday’s meeting. At last week’s meeting, 15 aldermen voted “yes” and eight “no” on a motion to allow an immediate vote on the resolution and not to have it go to committee. The vote tally would have been enough to pass it but fell short of the 20 votes needed to allow an immediate vote, Tyus said. Three other supporters weren’t at last week’s meeting.
Tyus said she was against lifting the residency requirement but would have accepted putting a residency measure on the ballot if another issue, to stop the scheduled reduction of wards to 14 from 28, was also on the ballot. The ward reduction issue is being held up in the board.
Tyus said she was confident a residency ballot issue would not win.
“The City is one of the only jurisdictions in the state with a residency requirement and the only jurisdiction in our entire region with one,” Long wrote. “Not even St. Louis County requires its employees to live in the County. In fact, many live in the city.”
“It is the Mayor’s contention that no one should be told where to live, and that lifting the residency requirement will help the City attract and retain talented employees, address chronic understaffing across all City departments and eliminate the most common barrier it faces to hiring,” Long wrote.