A law requiring new employees of Jacksonville City Hall to live in Duval County could be repealed soon. Then it could go on a ballot during next year’s city elections.
After three City Council members sponsored legislation to scrap the residency ordinance that passed in 2011, Councilman Reggie Brown said he’ll sponsor another measure to get a citywide vote.
“It’s my intention to take it to the people,” said Brown, who sponsored the current ordinance.
Brown said he has asked a city attorney to research how a vote by the public could be framed, but didn’t know the answer yet.
Jacksonville has intermittently had residency requirements for employees, then changed or dropped them, over a period of decades.
The law the council adopted in 2011 exempted existing city workers, but required new employees to live in the county within six months of taking the job. Backers said it was a way of keeping city jobs in the hands of people with a vested interest in seeing Jacksonville thrive.
But Councilman John Crescimbeni, who opposed the ordinance when it passed, complained that it had been waived soon after it took effect — first for a class of firefighters, then for city lawyers.
“I don’t think you can have it two ways,” he said Wednesday. “I figure it’s time to revisit the issue.”
Crescimbeni had said during a committee meeting late last year that he planned to file a repeal bill, which prompted members Richard Clark and Stephen Joost to say they would sign on to that effort.
The bill (2014-2) was filed this month.
Crescimbeni said that having a residents-only rule in Jacksonville could prompt neighboring communities to set similar requirements that could end up putting some Jacksonville residents out of work.
Brown said people can argue about exceptions that have been made to the current rule, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth scrapping the whole law.
“The one thing for certain,” Brown said of repealing the current ordinance, “is it is a loss of jobs for the folks that live in Jacksonville.”
Steve Patterson: (904) 359-4263