County set to end rule on worker residency
By Wayne Tompkins
Faced with hard-to-fill vacancies and high cost-of-living expenses, Miami-Dade County commissioners Tuesday took steps to eliminate the local residency requirement for county employees who aren't already exempt.
The Budget and Finance Committee approved the measure and sent it to the full commission. County residents would still receive hiring preference.
"A lot of our employees really can't afford to live here anymore," said Leon Fuller of AFSCME Local 199, one of three union representatives who spoke in favor of the change. "There are actually vacancies that can't be filled simply because there is no one in Miami-Dade County who can fill those positions."
About half the county's 30,000 employees already are exempt, including police, fire and corrections employees, some building department workers and those employed before 1998, when the county adopted a residency requirement.
Corrine Brody, interim human resources director, said auditors, accountants, planners and some skilled trades jobs have been especially hard to fill.
"When you look at some of the forecasts for the future in the Florida economy, it's expected that some of those classifications could see a 10% increase in demand," she said. "It becomes a question of whether we will see new folks in the marketplace that we can attract."
Commissioner José "Pepe" Diaz said that while he supports the measure, "I don't know where they are going to end up," he said of county employees. "Broward is as expensive as we are, and so is Monroe."
Commissioner Rebeca Sosa said, "if we are saying that the working class (is) moving out of Miami-Dade County, then our problem is bigger."