York City Council has a big night ahead of it on Tuesday.
His agenda includes two high-profile issues: whether to change the city’s residency requirement to allow city government employees to live outside the city; and whether to allow the city attorney to defend the mayor in a lawsuit challenging his right to hold office.
Both issues can be summed up in one word: No-brainers.
Let’s start with the mayor.
A group of 18 townspeople filed a lawsuit last month arguing that Mayor Michael Helfrich is ineligible to serve because he was not sworn in quickly enough. Helfrich was out of town earlier this year and was sworn in when he returned on January 24.
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Helfrich and city attorney Jason Sabol argue that the city code does not specify a timetable. Either way, Helfrich was sworn and that, one would think, should have been that.
But what many would consider to be, at worst, a clerical technicality is seen by plaintiffs as a truly impenetrable offense. They ask a judge to remove Helfrich from office.
It’s quite ridiculous. The city council, however, escalated the situation by dragging its feet to allow Sabol to defend Helfrich. Because he refused to act before an April 21 hearing, the mayor was forced to withhold off-board $5,000.
Equally worrying, the issue is listed as still in committee on Tuesday’s agenda, potentially prolonging a resolution further.
Council members raised concerns about a conflict of interest on the part of Sabol. The lawyer should be very interested in the case, but there is no conflict. He gave the opinion that there was no time limit and that he should be able to defend it.
Frankly, the question has already been a waste of time and an unnecessary distraction; nor should it become an additional financial burden on taxpayers. The board needs to address this issue, and quickly.
Evidence n°1: allow Sabol to represent the mayor and, by extension, those who elected him.
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The second question is just as simple.
Council will pass a motion that would change the city’s residency requirement, which requires all city employees to live within the city limits. (Exceptions are made for department heads and unionized workers.)
The proposed rule would allow city workers – nearly 100 would be affected – to live in York County or one of the contiguous counties. We would have limited the extension to just York County – to better keep home purchases, sales taxes and employee expenses closer to home – but for a penny, for a dollar.
As the last two years have shown, it is possible to adapt to flexible working conditions of all kinds without reducing performance. There may even be benefits in terms of inclusiveness and diversity.
Currently, according to city officials, limiting residency options not only narrows applicants to job vacancies, but also discourages current employees from pursuing careers in city government when that choice clashes with the desire to live outside the city. the city.
Ironically, the only group of workers whose residence in the city should be required is already exempt.
Municipal police officers work without residency requirements. It is sad. It’s safe to say that living in the neighborhoods they police can increase the effectiveness of officers and dilute the “us versus them” attitude that residents too often perceive.
In fact, York City Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow (who must live in the city) last week announced new neighborhood safety patrols to increase police presence in area neighborhoods.
Having cops living in these neighborhoods would also increase their presence. But that’s an editorial for another day.
For now, No-brainer No. 2: Abolish residency requirements for city employees.