Sept. 29--They work in Milwaukee's Health Department, the Department of Public Works and the water filtration plant.
Others are paramedics, police officers, firefighters, heavy equipment operators, budget analysts and dispatchers.
And they've all decided to live somewhere other than Milwaukee.
More than three dozen city employees have told their supervisors that they have chosen to take advantage of a new state law that ends residency rules for public-sector employees statewide.
The workers made the decision knowing the city of Milwaukee is not giving an inch in its belief that it has the right to require its employees to live in the city. But the workers who left also know the city has agreed not to take any disciplinary action against them while the legal battle continues.
The city is operating under a temporary restraining order that forbids city officials from enforcing the 75-year-old ordinance.
Calls left for some of the employees who could be tracked down were not returned. In the past, city employees have been reluctant to discuss their personal preferences regarding residency, fearing retribution from their supervisors, despite the restraining order.
The Journal Sentinel, using the state's open records law, requested the names of employees who had reported they were moving outside the city. The city has implemented a new work rule that requires all general city employees to report an address change within 72 hours of the effective date of the move. Firefighters and police officers also are required to inform the Fire and Police Commission if they move.
In the case of the Milwaukee Fire Department, 11 employees said they had moved out. An additional five employees lived outside the city either because they were new hires that were still within the six-month time period to establish residency in the city, or new hires whose request for an extension beyond six months had been approved by the Fire and Police Commission.
At the Police Department, 21 employees said they had moved out of the city. An additional seven employees of the Police Department had prior approval to move out of Milwaukee.
And among general city employees, a relative few -- six in all -- declared they had moved outside the city limits.
The possibility also exists that some city employees have moved out without telling their supervisors. There have been reports for years of city employees who maintain an apartment in Milwaukee, yet live elsewhere.
Jeff Fleming, a spokesman for Mayor Tom Barrett, said the city has 6,559 full-time equivalent employees, although some of those positions are vacant.
"Policy makers for decades have insisted that city employees live in the city. We want them to live in the city," Fleming said.
As some workers choose to move, the legal fight between the Milwaukee Police Association and the Milwaukee Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 215 against the city continues in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.
The case is before Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Paul Van Grunsven. He has set a schedule for legal pleadings and filings that will delay the case until at least late January.
The MPA and Local 215 want a court order forcing the city to abide by the new law.
The city argues that the residency ordinance is a lawful exercise of Milwaukee's home rule constitutional authority.
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