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LR residency requirement vote set for Tuesday

If you want a new job working for the City of Little Rock, soon you might have to live in Little Rock before you can start earning a paycheck.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - If you want a new job working for the City of Little Rock, soon you might have to live in Little Rock before you can start earning a paycheck.

City Director Erma Hendrix proposed an ordinance up for vote this Tuesday requiring Little Rock residency for all new city employees. Hendrix attempted a similar move last June, but couldn't get enough support from her fellow board members.

"I asked Director Hendrix to not limit this to fire and police," explained Ward 2 City Director Ken Richardson at Tuesday's Little Rock agenda meeting.

The Little Rock residency requirement proposal now applies to all departments, meaning in order to start a new career with the city, you'd have to live within city limits.

"I think it gives us a wonderful opportunity to address some employment needs or poverty pockets in our community where we have unemployment, underemployment," says Richardson.

Richardson told FOX16 this week that he likes the concept, especially with the police and fire departments now hiring several new employees thanks to the sale tax increase.

"I think a lot of people voted for that because they thought those jobs would be filled by City of Little Rock residents, so I think that we can't continue this practice of subsidizing all these outlying communities and develop these communities. I think we need to figure out some kind of way to make sure those dollars stay here," he says.

Right now, more than half of Little Rock's police officers and firefighters live outside the city. The proposal suggests a residency requirement would help cut emergency response times, but it does not sit well with the president of the Little Rock firefighters' union who does not support it. Richard Morehead says he feels people have a basic right to live where they want to live, and he says this policy could create division within the department.

Current employees would not have to move. And, special exceptions could be made by the city manager.

You can share your opinion on the proposed residency requirement with your city director before Tuesday's vote, or you can sign up to speak at Tuesday's meeting by showing up at Little Rock City Hall at 6 p.m. and filling out a speaker card.
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