La Crosse Considers Offering Incentives For Employees To Move Into City

30 Percent Of City Employees Live Outside La Crosse

Above, the Mississippi River Bridge connecting the city of La Crosse to Minnesota. Photo: Rebecca J. Brown (CC-BY-NC-SA).

La Crosse could join a growing number of Wisconsin communities, including Milwaukee and Madison, in offering financial incentives to have employees move into the city.

The residency incentive programs are attempting to get around the current state budget, which did away with residency requirements for cities and schools in Wisconsin.

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat says many elected officials believe such a program is important for efforts to revitalize the city’s neighborhoods.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“I think everybody agrees that having your employees live in the city adds a lot,” said Kabat. “Those employees become more vested in operations because they would not only be employees, but customers of the city services too.”

La Crosse weakened its own residency requirements about 10 years ago, allowing most city workers to move out of the city after three years of employment. That action, combined with the state Legislature ending residency requirements, has led to about 30 percent of city’s employees living outside of the city – a trend that concerns Kabat.

Kabat says they hope to provide an incentive package to attract employees who live outside of the city starting in 2015. La Crosse starts looking at options this week, which Kabat says includes lump sum incentives or assisting with down payments for homebuyers. The city is reviewing residency incentive programs already in place in cities like Kaukauna and West Allis.