Once the vote count is made official by the Allegheny County Elections Division later this month the Pittsburgh Home Rule Charter will have a new amendment. By an 80-20 majority Tuesday, voters approved a ballot question that would amend the charter to require all city employees to live in the city for which they work.
“It’s important that they live in the city and be part of the city and have a commitment to the city which they control,” said Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess.
That includes police and firefighters.
Earlier, lawmakers in Harrisburg passed legislation specifically exempting Pittsburgh police and firefighters from a city residency requirement that dated back in the city more than 100 years. That new state law prompted the union representing Pittsburgh police to file suit to be released from the requirement.
The matter was sent to an arbitration board that is expected to rule any day.
The police union suit prompted Burgess to begin his effort to place the question on the ballot.
“I believe the best way to improve public safety is to improve public confidence, and when you have these chance encounters at the Target and at Giant Eagle at the bakery you increase public confidence,” Burgess said.
Pittsburgh firefighter union officials announced this week that they supported the amendment. The police union officially remained tacit but did not drop its suit.
Burgess admits that the amendment will probably wind up in court.
The text of the amendment reads:
Section 711. Residency Requirements for All City Employees. All City employees and officials, including Police and Fire Bureau personnel, shall be domiciled in the City at the time of their initial appointment and shall continuously maintain their domicile within the City throughout their terms of employment with the City. This section shall take effect immediately upon passage.