Mayor Barrett signs wage increase ordinance for city workers

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- On Monday, July 29th, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett signed a wage increase ordinance for city of Milwaukee employees who agree to continue living in the city.

The 1.5% wage increase is the first for Milwaukee city employees in four years.

In order to receive the raise, employees must agree to continue living in the city.It's the city's latest push to keep enforcing its residency requirement.

During a meeting on July 23rd, the Milwaukee Common Council approved the pay raise.

"We as a Council felt we made some savings and it is fair after a four long years, that a 1.5% increase was necessary. If they choose to leave the city of Milwaukee, they will forfeit that 1.5%," Alderman Murphy said.

Employees who stay with the city through the end of December will get another 1.5% raise. That would be for the first six months of 2013, and will be paid in a lump sum.

Last month, the Common Council voted to keep enforcing the city's residency rule. That came in defiance of the state, which in this year's budget, barred such requirements.

"I would say let's just move on, because the more the mayor fights this issue on residency, the more he's admitting that public employees, given the opportunity, thousands will move out of the city. What does that say about his confidence in his own city?" Alderman Bob Donovan said.

The Milwaukee Police Association has sued the city over the residency requirement. A Milwaukee County judge issued a temporary restraining order, forcing the city to follow the state law until there's a final ruling.

"We're confident, based on our legal council, that we'll be successful in that lawsuit but clearly we want to send a strong message. We think residency is extremely important," Alderman Murphy said.

The president of the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Local 215 says he's happy to see employees get a raise. He declined to comment when asked about the residency requirement attached to the raise. He says the union plans on joining the Police Association in its lawsuit against the city over the residency requirement.