Those hired to lead city of Waupaca departments will be required to live in the city.
“I think the person should be required to live here,” Ald. Deb Fenske said during a Dec. 18 Common Council discussion about whether to add a residency requirement to the job description for the parks and recreation director.
The city is preparing to fill that vacant position, and the Common Council voted 5-4 to include city residency as a requirement.
Fenske, as well as Steve Hackett, Paul Hagen, Paul Lehman and Paul Mayou voted in favor it it, while John Lockwood, Eric Olson, Scott Purchatzke and Dave Shambeau voted against it.
However, any existing city employee who applies for the parks and recreation director position would not have to comply with that requirement.
Parks Superintendent Russ Montgomery, who has been the acting parks and recreation director for more than two years, lives in the town of Waupaca.
“I believe that person is on call, and they should live in the city,” Mayor Brian Smith said. “By the same token, Russ should be able to apply for the job. He lives outside the city and will continue to.”
The approved motion included that if the person hired for the position does not already work for the city, that person will have one year to become a city resident, with that year beginning after the probation period ended.
“You are creating different rules for different departments,” Police Chief Tim Goke said before the council voted.
Goke, who lives in the city, said police officers must establish residency – within a 30-minute response time to the station – during their probation period.
City Administrator Henry Veleker said, “With the economic development director, we gave a year to get the residency requirement, from the date of hire. We do have a provision that we could extend that if it was needed.”
Smith said he would rather see the residency requirement begin after the passing of the probation period.
Hagen thought that was a fair addition.
Prior to the council’s Dec. 18 vote, only Veleker had a city residency requirement. It is part of his contract.
Goke falls under the 30-minute response time requirement.
“Going forward, the economic development director will have it,” Veleker said. “Park and rec has it. However, any existing employee applying for the job does not have to comply.”
Those holding the city’s other department head positions – Director of Public Works John Edlebeck, City Treasurer Jean Peterson and Library Director Peg Burington are grandfathered in and also do not have to comply with the city residency requirement.
Both Edlebeck and Burington are city residents.
Prior to the council’s vote, Edlebeck asked if it meant he or Burington could not move outside of the city and whether if Peterson decided to move, she would be required to move into the city.
“It would be a changed condition as to when I was hired,” he said. “These are real and possible situations.”
Some members of the council, including Shambeau, Olson and Purchatzke, were in favor of requiring the parks and recreation director to live in the Waupaca School District.
Purchatzke questioned whether requiring someone to live in the city might restrict applicants.
When he asked Veleker if some communities have dropped the residency requirement, Veleker told him both Neenah and De Pere dropped it.
During the discussion about requiring the parks and recreation director to live in the school district rather than the city, Smith reminded the council that the town of Lind is in the school district and is not part of the parks and recreation agreement with the city.
The towns of Dayton, Farmington and Waupaca include funds in their annual budgets for the city and park rec, with participants from those three towns thus able to participate in city park and rec programs and pay the same fees city residents do.
Lind has never agreed to be a part of the agreement.
With the council’s vote to make city residency a requirement for that position, Veleker said as people leave the other city department head positions, city residency will also become a requirement for those hired to fill those positions.