MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Currently, public employees who work for the city of Milwaukee have to live in the city, but a proposal in the state budget could change that — affecting teachers, firefighters and police officers.
Ralph Salyers followed in his father’s footsteps in 2010 — getting a job as a Milwaukee police officer.
He was awarded the Medal of Valor for saving three children from a burning house in June of 2011. In September of that year, he saved a man from a burning car, and was awarded the Livesaving Award.
In 2012, Salyers had to resign as a Milwaukee police officer. After two extensions on the time period to move into the city of Milwaukee, Salyers was not able to sell his Waukesha house.
“I only got one offer at the time and it was $30,000 below my asking price, which was already below what I paid for it,” Salyers said.
Salyers was soon hired by the Wauwatosa Police Department, and still lives in Waukesha.
“I guess I consider myself a circumstance of the whole residency issue,” Salyers said.
Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy says thousands of good, qualified candidates apply to be city employees, knowing they must live in Milwaukee.
“Taxpayers in this city receive a substantial benefit from having police and firefighters and city employees live in our city,” Alderman Murphy said.
Alderman Murphy is one of many in the city opposed to lifting the residency requirement. Murphy believes it would have a huge impact on the economic health of Milwaukee as large numbers of workers would move out.
“Over a 10-year time period, we would lose about 50% of the employees that live in the city of Milwaukee. That’s significant,” Alderman Murphy said.
Officer Salyers says he couldn’t afford to walk away from his life savings that was tied up in his house in Waukesha. Other than that, he felt a bond with the city.
“When I was working in Milwaukee, it didn’t matter I didn’t live there. I still did my job as if I owned my neighborhood, my squad area, my beat area. I still had pride in my area and doing my job, and pride in my job,” Salyers said.
Lifting the residency requirement in Wisconsin will be discussed at a public hearing Thursday, April 4th at Greendale High School from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.