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Rhinelander Leader Bucks Governor to Fight for Local ControlSubmitted: 04/18/2013

Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - Rhinelander requires its police officers and firefighters to live within 20 minutes of town.

That's to make sure they can respond quickly to a safety problem.

The city is one of more than 125 cities and villages in Wisconsin to have similar rules.

For example, Milwaukee requires all city employees and school teachers to live within city limits.

But Gov. Walker's budget bill would to prohibit cities and towns from enforcing so-called "residency rules".

One Rhinelander leader is fighting that legislation - city council member Alex Young.

"It's really an issue, as far as I'm concerned, of local control, and the city being allowed to make its own decisions. There's bipartisan opposition to this. There have been some Republican lawmakers that have been fairly vocal opposing this," says Young.

Walker has said he wants cities to hire people based on merit, not on where they live.

Young says that might work in dense urban areas, but creates problems in the rural Northwoods.

"If we aren't able to have employees that can respond fast, trying to call them in from another neighboring municipality is going to add some time and decrease public safety," he says.

If Walker's proposed law change passes, it would trump the local proposal by Young.

Whether the Governor's rule change will go into law should be decided by this summer.

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