Milwaukee Council Says Home Rule Trumps New Residency Requirements


Milwaukee officials say they plan to ignore residency language in the state budget and direct firefighters and police to keep living in the city.

A legal fight appears to be in store.

The Milwaukee Common Council passed a resolution Tuesday directing city officials to continue to enforce the city charter that requires police and fire department employees to live in Milwaukee. That’s despite the state budget Governor Walker has signed, which reduces requirements for local government employee residency in more than 100 Wisconsin communities.

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Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has quickly signed the council’s resolution. He says the state constitution has a home rule provision that allows communities to have residency laws, and Barrett contends that trumps the new state budget.

Barrett: “The legislation passed by the state is not an issue of statewide concern, and that it does not apply to communities in the same way, uniformly throughout the state, because of some of the language of the statute itself.”

Barrett says the residency language in the state budget is likely to wind up in court. Milwaukee Police Association President Mike Crivello says if the city wants a legal battle, it should just head to the courthouse.

Crivello: “I find it troubling to hear them direct other city leaders to disobey state law. It’s very difficult.”

Crivello contends many police officers plan to stay in the city anyway. He says his message to those shopping for a home in the suburbs is to proceed with caution, while union attorneys and officials explore their options in light of the new directive from the city.