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Residency requirement for new city employees passes 14-0

February 11, 2015

by Lauren Sears

In an unanimous 14-0 decision, members of the Albany Common Council passed a residency requirement for new city employees, called Local Law F, during Wednesday’s Common Council meeting. This law says that all new employees of the city must live within the city and hiring preference must be given to city residents if they are equally qualified for the position.

Council members sounded relieved when the law passed.“This law has been in committees for 10 years and seemed not to be moving. We have so many complaints from city residents that apply for jobs that were denied, or not contacted by the city at this time you aren’t qualified for this job etc, and it seems that a lot of people hired for the city, live outside the city. If we could hire people in the city, I think people will be more generous and making sure the city prospers and they are involved,” said Ronald Bailey. Bailey, a councilman who represents the third ward.

Councilman Bailey discussing residency requirement

Councilman Bailey discussing residency requirement

“There are currently 1238 city workers, 600 of them don’t live in the city of Albany, and 300 of them don’t live within Albany County, ”  said Bailey. The law does not take effect until a public hearing and filing with the Secretary of State.

Local Law F has five sections, each describing different components of the law. The Common Council believes that the public need is high enough to require that new employees should be city residents, and that preference should be given to city residents. New employees have 180 days to prove residency within Albany, and can go to the Board of Residency for a waiver if needed.

The law also states that individuals who are employees of the city have a greater interest, commitment and more involvement with the government which employs them if the employee lives within that municipality.  “Because the people who work and live in the city of Albany are going to spend in their neighborhood stores, they are going to do things in their community and in the City of Albany that benefits the city. People who live outside the city, they are going back to their communities, so the city of Albany will benefit from this new law,” said Bailey.

When asked how the residency requirement will impact the city, Council members Leah Golby and Frank Commisso both agreed that more investing in the city should result.

“The residency requirement is one way to ensure that many opportunities for city employment are offered to people who are already invested in the city. The other side of the coin is that it keeps the local tax dollars that are paying the employees in the city — so it is an investment in both the people who live in the city and the city’s neighborhoods,” said Leah Golby, who represents the tenth ward, including the Pine Hills.

“When at all possible, we need to invest in our city limits,” said Frank Commisso, a Common Council member who represents the 15th ward.
The residency requirement could have a positive impact  on the Pine Hills neighborhood.

“An outgrowth of this could be an increase in home ownership in the Pine Hills neighborhood — especially if the city is able to offer home buyer programs to employees — something the city has done in the past — I’m not sure if there are any current home buyer programs for employees,” Golby said. “Add to that the fact that Pine Hills has great and affordable housing stock, and the 2-family houses that are abundant in our neighborhood can be a great investment for a first-time homeowner because the opportunity for rental income helps to pay the mortgage.”

Local Law F-2014 Final Amended

The new residency law does not apply to Albany firefighters or Albany police officers. “State law prohibits placing residency requirements on police officers, firefighters and sanitation employees, even new hires,” said Golby.

“A lot of our sanitation workers, fire, police live outside the city of Albany. Maybe this gives them incentive to say we need you to live within our community,” said Bailey -30-

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