Vermilion County to consider change in residency requirement

Vermilion County to consider change in residency requirement

DANVILLE — Vermilion County may be switching from a requirement that employees live within the county to a policy that only recommends it.

In February 2010, the Vermilion County Board passed by a 13-9 vote an ordinance that requires the county's non-union employees to live in the county. The policy required that all non-union employees hired after its passage had to move to the county within six months of their hire date, and current employees were not affected unless they accepted a promotion or planned to move from their current residence.

Now, the county board will consider during its meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, 6 N. Vermilion St., Danville, whether to repeal that ordinance and replace it with a policy that is basically a recommendation that the county give preference to job candidates who live in the county.

County board Chairman Gary Weinard brought the residency requirement before the board's finance and personnel committee to consider repealing it because it could be applied to only a small portion of the county's more than 400 employees and was not being enforced.

After the residency ordinance was approved in 2010, Vermilion County Health Department officials asked the Illinois Attorney General's Office for an opinion on whether it applied to the department. The opinion was that the board of health sets such policies for the health department, not the county board, so its ordinance doesn't apply. The opinion also made it clear that the ordinance couldn't be forced on elected county officeholders. And union employees were not included in the ordinance because a residency requirement would have to be negotiated into their contract.

Weinard said the ordinance ultimately could only be applied to a few county departments, and only about a total of 15 employees within those departments.

"It just didn't make sense to have an ordinance on the books that didn't apply to anyone and couldn't be enforced," said Weinard, who added that the decision was made to just make it a policy encouraging county officeholders and department heads to hire local candidates or those who are willing to become county residents.

Weinard said his opinion is that the best person should be hired for all county jobs, and if that person lives in Covington, Ind., or St. Joseph, that's fine, but if you have three candidates who are equal and only one lives in the county, it makes sense to hire the county resident first.

Weinard said switching to a policy rather than repealing the ordinance and putting nothing in its place is a reasonable compromise.

"It still accomplishes our intent to hire local people," he said.

Also Tuesday night, the board will consider making a line of credit from the county's general fund available to Vermilion Manor Nursing Home just in case there's a cash-flow problem between now and when the facility is transferred to the new owners. Weinard said the target date to transfer the nursing home from the county to the new owners is Aug. 1.

County Auditor Linda Lucas Anstey told the county's personnel and finance committee last week that state Medicaid payments are still a bit slow and the federal Medicare payment from June did not come, so it would be best to have a line of credit to ensure it can meet payroll and pay bills until the transfer.

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