Lawrence City Commission repeals requirement for many top city officials to live in Lawrence
photo by: Chris Conde
City leaders have voted to repeal residency rules that require many of the city’s top officials to live in Lawrence, maintaining the requirement only for one position.
As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted 4-1, with Commissioner Lisa Larsen opposing, to repeal the residency requirements for all city employees except the city manager, effectively allowing employees in about a dozen high-level positions to live elsewhere.
Assistant City Manager Casey Toomay told the commission that residency requirements could be a hindrance for recruiting new city staff, and that city staff recommended the changes in part to help the city attract more qualified and diverse candidates for the upcoming recruitment for several department director positions.
Larsen said she opposed the change because she thought there were certain positions where it was vital that the person live in Lawrence and be immersed in the community.
Other commissioners supported the change, and Mayor Brad Finkeldei said he felt comfortable making the change so the city could get the best candidates, citing as a potential example someone who lived in Lenexa but wanted to remain living there so a child could finish high school. However, Finkeldei said he thought the issue was nuanced, and he confirmed with city staff that the commission could still require residency as part of a particular job posting, such as the police chief, if it desired.