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Pine Bluff Officials Debate Residency Requirements

The Pine Bluff City Council is considering a new residency ordinance after months of strife over two existing laws requiring department heads to live within city limits.

PINE BLUFF, AR- The Pine Bluff City Council is considering a new residency ordinance after months of strife over two existing laws requiring department heads to live within city limits.

The proposed ordinance would exempt all current employed department heads.

They would be "grandfathered" in, but all new city hires including the Fire and Police Chief would need to live with 12 miles of Pine Bluff.

This is not the first time the Pine Bluff City Council has discussed the issue of residency requirements for department heads and uniformed employees of the city, but Alderman Steven Mays hopes its the last time.

"I just want to get this thing solved and get our city back on track," says Mays.

Mays' ordinance would replace 2 previous laws and would exempt interim positions.

If this ordinance passes employees could only hold interim positions for one year and if hired full time would need to move and establish residency.

Says Mays, "We're a good city here."

The only person to comment during the meeting about the ordinance, Laurell Hall, whose daughter Cleashindra has been missing for 19 years.

"If someone has exerted as much passion in finding out what happened to her as you have in this residency matter she would have been found a long time ago," says Hall.

Alderman Glen Brown says this ordinance sets the wrong example for the city.

"If you love Pine Bluff, you want to keep everybody in Pine Bluff and you want to keep your taxes in Pine Bluff, and you want to continue to move forward and grow Pine Bluff."

He says with a population declining and poverty increasing, Pine Bluff money should stay in Pine Bluff.

This discussion now carries over to the administration committee meeting next Thursday at 2:00 p.m. before coming back to the city council for a second reading.

The issue can be traced back to the mayor's appointment of the Interim Police Chief, Jeff Hubanks, who currently lives in Cleveland county.

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