City employee residency requirement sparks major debate in Topeka council meeting

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Topeka City Council talked about the living requirements for city employees for a majority of the meeting Tuesday night.

Right now, city employees have to live in Shawnee County. However, a proposed plan would change that requirement. 

City leaders said police and fire recruitment levels are down and this change would help that. 

City spokeswoman Molly Hadfield said by not having a residency requirement, they could expand the pool of applicants.

“Sometimes that barrier is some people don’t want to live here right away,” Hadfield said. “Or they have a significant other who lives in Kansas City and they want to live somewhere else and split the commute.”

Council members Karen Hiller, Jeff Coen, and Tony Emerson are supporting the proposed change.

But not all city leaders, including the Mayor, are in full support.

Mayor Michelle De La Isla said she wants city employees to be “married to the mission” in regards to the direction leaders are trying to get Topeka to go in.

The council did not take any action on the issue Tuesday night, it was only discussed.

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