City to look at residency requirements for city officials

Jefferson City officials will have a discussion this week about whether to alter a city policy requiring department directors to live within city limits.

The Council Committee on Administration is scheduled to meet at 8 a.m. Wednesday, and one item on the agenda is a proposed ordinance to extend the city’s residence requirements.

City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus said city policy is that all city employees are required to live within 25 miles of city limits, but some department directors are required to live inside city limits.

He said the reason not all department directors are required to live within city limits is because the policy was created in the 1980s and has not been updated to reflect new or altered titles.

Past city councils have rejected the idea of expanding the residency requirements, and Nickolaus said the current council has rejected the idea twice before, both within closed session discussions.

“It’s something we’ve talked about before,” Nickolaus said.

The proposed ordinance would allow department directors to live within 25 miles of city limits, he said, though that could change during committee discussion.

“Whether that would be for all department directors or some of the department directors, whether the council wants to do 25 miles or something less than 25 miles, that’s really something we’ll leave to the council to decide,” Nickolaus said. “We sort of wrote the ordinance in the broadest possible way.”

The discussion is happening now because of recent issues in the city’s past searches for a new finance director. Nickolaus had said in the last national search that several good candidates for the finance director position were eliminated simply because they lived just outside city limits and were unwilling to move.

As to whether the council will go for the proposal when it has already been rejected twice, Nickolaus said staff was asked to look into it and the council wants to have the discussion.

“I don’t know that necessarily anything has changed,” Nickolaus said.

Mayor Eric Struemph said the issue is something that needs to be discussed.

“It’s a conversation that we at least need to have,” Struemph said. “Let’s have an open conversation about it.”

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