The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Monday, April 23, 2007


The residency requirements for city officers and employees is once again a hot issue. Why? You be the judge of that.

The City Council, after a lengthy and at times testy debate, decided not to put a resolution on the agenda that would have modified the residency requirements for most city employees.

The resolution, put forth by Councilwoman Carolin Collier, C-District 6, would require all city employees, who are subjected to a variety of residency requirements, to come into compliance by Nov. 30 or be fired.

Alright, so far we're with you. Kind of. No, not really. This is the type of thing that happens after the skull bong is empty and someone forgot to bring the Doritos. The first portion of the proposed resolution is unnecessary. From Chapter 60 of The Code:

§ 60-5. General requirement.

All employees of the City of Troy, except those expressly exempt by the Public Officers Law of the State of New York, shall be residents of the City of Troy at the time of their employment or shall become residents within 90 days after their employment and shall remain residents of the City of Troy as a condition of their continued employment. Except as hereinafter provided, any employee of the City who does not comply with the mandatory residency requirements of this article shall be subject to immediate termination by the Mayor.

With us? Good! Try and keep up.

The Mayor can already do what is being proposed. He can terminate residency law violators. Ergo, he can terminate them after November 30. He can do it on Bastille Day, Christmas Day or Secretary Appreciation Day.

And whose job is it to enforce the law? As any C- student can tell you......The Executive. If you don't believe us, lets take a look.

§ C-48. Duties and powers of Mayor.

The Mayor, as the chief executive officer of the City, shall be responsible for the administration of the executive branch of the City government. Specifically it shall be the Mayor's duty:

A. To see that the laws of the State of New York and the local laws and ordinances of the Council are enforced within the City;

Even those of you who know how to read may have missed that. The Mayor's power and duty to enforce the laws is cleverly hidden at the top of the list.

Corporation Counsel David Mitchell says the problem with the current ordinance is that it lacks an enforcement mechanism. That is a problem. To bad it's not true. Here's your enforcement mechanism:

Mayor: Hello, City employee.
City Employee: Hello, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: City Employee, have you moved to Troy yet?
City Employee: No.
Mayor: You're fired!

If Mitchell refers specifically to the ordinance regulating Police Officer residency, then he surely knows that the courts have dealt with this issue

In September 1997, plaintiff Robert Hayden (hereinafter plaintiff) was reappointed by defendant City of Troy as a police officer. At the time of his reappointment, plaintiff lived in an apartment in the City of Troy, Rensselaer County. In July 1998, plaintiff purchased a house outside the Troy city limits in the Town of Pittstown, Rensselaer County, with the intention of living there. Pursuant to Public Officers Law § 30 (4) (3), n1 on December 22, 1995, the Troy City Counsel adopted a resolution, codified as Code of Ordinances of the City of Troy, N.Y. (Troy Code) § 24-4, n2 requiring police officers hired after December 22, 1995 to reside within the Troy city limits. In June 1998, the City's assistant police chief advised plaintiff of the residency requirement and that failure to abide by the requirement "may ultimately result in dismissal from service." Thereafter, plaintiff received a letter from the City's personnel director advising plaintiff that the City has "instituted a practice that requires officers who come under the law to sign a form attesting to any change in their residences." Plaintiff was further advised that failure to sign the attestation form "could become a ground for disciplinary action."-Troy PBA v City of Troy (2002)

The PBA lost that fight. The enforcement mechanism is implicit in both the ordinance and the appellate decision. Council President Bauer said it best: ""The council has done its job. ... We passed a law and it is supported by a Supreme Court judge. We can debate whether it should be enforced or how vigorously it should be enforced but there is a mechanism."

If you need further evidence of how useless this all is, Council Wojcik supports the resolution. Wojcik also offered an amendment that would further require all police officers to reside not only within the city limits, but within 200 feet of Mr. Wojcik. Councilwoman Collier introduced the resolution but appears less comfortable carrying kool-aid for this administration than Wojcik.

This episode may just be further proof that members of the administration attended civics 101 on the small bus. But this isn't really about the first part of the resolution. It's about the second part, which we'll discuss tomorrow.

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