The City Council is preparing to have another conference committee meeting on a proposed residency ordinance introduced two weeks ago by Councillor Giovanni Recupero.
Recupero said this week that he will amend the ordinance, which now calls for all new hires to remain living in the city for seven years after being hired, to read that it would only be five years after being hired.
He said that was a compromise amongst colleagues and he indicated he believes he has the votes necessary to pass the measure. He has proposed iterations of the residency ordinance many times over the past few years, but never with so many new faces on the Council.
The proposal will likely be a litmus test for the direction that the new Council heads on such measures that were often not entertained in the past.
“I have agreed to amend it to five years from seven years,” he said. “I believe I have at least six votes lined up for this. People say that there is no place for them to live, but that’s not right because they have to live in Chelsea already at least one year before they can even be hired. I’m not looking to hurt anyone who is already on. They will be grandfathered. It’s only for new hires. What’s wrong with them living in our city? What’s so bad about living here?”
In a Letter to the Editor in this week’s Chelsea Record, Councillor Leo Robinson also indicates he supports the new ordinance proposal.
“The virtues of hiring local residents for local jobs are obvious: more employment opportunities, more spending within the community, more tax revenues, and less crime,” he wrote. “Although our community has shown interest in creating employment opportunities, most of the focus has been on low-skilled, low-wage workers. Employment policies should be equally concerned with retaining high-skilled, high-wage workers within the community, for that would mean more homeowners and taxpayers, not to mention more community involvement.”
He indicated that official numbers showed that 71 of 90 firefighters lived outside of the city, and 63 of 102 police officers live outside of the city.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said the ordinance is not a priority of his, but he isn’t interested in waging a war with the Council if it is its priority.
“It’s not something I would pursue on my own and I don’t have a strong opinion on it, but it’s also not something I’m going to fight a battle with the City Council on,” he said.
He said he opposed the idea of a residency ordinance when he was mayor of Revere many years ago, but it was a priority of the City Council and he worked with them.
Council President Dan Cortell said he doesn’t support the measure, and never has. He said he believes that there are enough Chelsea police and firefighters living in the city.
“I am not going to support it,” he said. “I have always said if it gets down to five officers or firefighters in the city, I might have to take a look at it, but the last numbers I saw that isn’t the case. I see it as trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.”