NEW ORLEANS – A New Orleans city councilman is introducing a measure that, if passed, would eliminate the requirement that Sewerage and Water Board employees live in Orleans Parish.
The ordinance is authored by District 2 Councilman Joe Giarrusso, who said in a news release that he’s trying to address “the immediate need for robust hiring.”
Giarrusso said there are roughly 500 vacant positions within the troubled public utility, which has been dealing with a wide range of infrastructure and billing issues over the past year.
“We have repeatedly heard from the S&WB that the utility is under-staffed in several critical areas ranging from meter readers to experienced engineers. Eliminating the residency requirement will give the S&WB more options and flexibility,” said Giarrusso, who chairs the City Council’s Public Works, Sanitation, and Environment Committee.
Employees of the NOPD, NOFD, and EMS are currently exempt from the residency requirement, which mandates that employees live in Orleans Parish or move to Orleans Parish within six months of starting their employment. This policy change would add S&WB to the list of exempt agencies.
“While this is an immediate tool, we know the Sewerage and Water Board must be dedicated to implementing creative short, medium, and long-term solutions,” Giarrusso said.
A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for the Aug. 20 Public Works Committee meeting before advancing to the full Council for a vote. If approved, the policy change will be effective on September 4, 2018, or 10 days after it passes.