Council: If you live there, you can't work here
BATON ROUGE - Five Baton Rouge Metro Council members are proposing the city-parish only hire employees who live within city limits or in unincorporated areas of the parish. The proposal would exclude anyone living in Central, Zachary, Baker and the proposed City of St. George from working for city government.
Council members Tara Wicker, Chauna Banks-Daniel, Donna Collins Lewis, Ronnie Edwards, and Denise Marcelle say it's not a new plan and would put Baton Rouge in line with surrounding cities.
The proposal was introduced minutes before the start of Wednesday afternoon's meeting and would require all City-Parish employees hired after Jan. 31, 2014 to be domiciled within the city limits of Baton Rouge or in the unincorporated areas of East Baton Rouge Parish.
"There's a false notion that there are no good workers or available workers in the City of Baton Rouge," Banks-Daniel said. "Because of that, those that have the hiring authority, we just naturally overlook good talent in the city."
Banks-Daniel and other council members say it's important now because of annexation and breakaways.
"More than anything, we have a St. George situation," said Banks-Daniel. "There has not been adequate spreading of resources from one end of the parish to the other, so we're going to have quite a few St. George issues if we don't address the disparity in regard to resources."
City employees, including police, fire and public works, would be impacted.
Shane Spillman, President of the Baton Rouge Association of Firefighters Local 557, is worried it will hurt the next recruitment class.
"We look at other parishes, look at guys who are qualified," said Spillman.
About half of Baton Rouge firefighters live and are recruited from outside city limits. Under this proposed ordinance, those hired before Jan. 31 would be grandfathered in, but future recruitment classes won't.
"If we're looking at just the parish, or just the city limits, it's going to be hard to get the 35 employees," said Spillman.
Councilman John Delgado objected to the proposal, which was tabled at Wednesday's meeting.
"We're talking about people in the adjacent parishes or even within cities within East Baton Rouge Parish that would be excluded from being hired even though they may be the best qualified candidate," said Delgado.
Those who propose the change say they will be gathering statistics and researching where city-parish employees live to present at the council meeting next month.