An ordinance requiring top Luzerne County government managers to live in the county appears to have majority council support to remain in effect, according to feedback presented Tuesday.
Implemented a year ago, the ordinance mandates the county manager, eight division heads, prison deputy warden, sheriff and heads of emergency management and 911 establish county residency within six months of their hiring. The policy does not require home ownership.
County Councilman Rick Williams pushed to repeal the ordinance, saying he does not believe “limiting is good government.” County Manager C. David Pedri also advocated doing away with the requirement.
Williams and four other council members introduced an ordinance Tuesday to repeal the residency rule.
However, six votes would be needed at the next council meeting to void the policy, and all six who voted against the ordinance introduction said Tuesday or previously that it should remain in effect.
Among their arguments in support of the requirement Tuesday:
• Councilwoman Kathy Dobash said county residency shows a commitment, including payment of taxes. Those who live too far away may get burned out and be inaccessible, she said.
• Councilman Stephen A. Urban said he observed during his past employment at the Pentagon that coworkers with long commutes left earlier and were not as dedicated as he and others who lived closer.
• Jane Walsh Waitkus agreed with colleagues Urban and Dobash, saying she wants top managers to contribute to the tax base.
• Councilman Edward Brominski said managers “show dedication” by moving into the county when they are hired if they don’t already reside there.
• Eileen Sorokas said, “True blue is here, people who care about the area.”
Councilman Eugene Kelleher concurred with Williams, saying he prefers managers who live and pay taxes in the county but does not want to eliminate top-ranked applicants who live a short distance across the county border.