St. Louis Public Radio News
3:57 pm
Fri May 29, 2009

Alderman seeks to open residency debate

St. Louis, MO – St. Louis city voters may be asked next November to change the residency requirement for municipal employees.

Fourteenth Ward Alderman Stephen Gregali introduced the charter amendment at Friday's Board of Aldermen meeting. Under the current city charter, all city employees except police officers must remain in the city the entire length of their employment. A 2006 law approved by the Republican-controlled state General Assembly and signed by Gov. Matt Blunt allowed police officers to leave the city after seven years. Gregali's proposal would give that right to all city employees.

"It opens up a larger pool for us to seek employees from," Gregali said. "It gives the people an opportunity to you know think about working for the city, and, you know, after they've lived here for seven years, they'll find, hey I'm going to stay here too, I believe."

Third Ward Alderman Freeman Bosley, Sr., a long-time supporter of the residency requirement, called Gregali's proposal "ridiculous."

"If you don't want to live in the city, then go get your job someplace else," he said. "If it's good enough for you to make your living here, it should be good enough for you to live here."

Voters in April 1995 and again in November 2006 approved non-binding referendums supporting the police residency requirement. If approved by the aldermen, the proposed charter change would go on the November 2010 ballot, and need 3/5 approval to take effect.

The residency requirement change would not affect revenue from the earnings tax, which makes up nearly one third of the city's general revenue. The one percent tax is charged on salaries earned in the city and on city residents who work elsewhere.