Albemarle modifies residency requirements to help with recruitment

Published 10:05 am Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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To help bolster recruitment and attract a diverse talent base, the City of Albemarle recently modified its residency requirements for employees.

In the past, the city manager and assistant city manager had to reside within city limits and the department heads had to live within Stanly County. All other employees had to live within a 50-mile radius of city hall.

But during a Nov. 1 council meeting, it was brought up that the city has struggled at times to attract potential employees for leadership roles because they met the 50-mile requirement but did not reside within the county and didn’t want to uproot their families. There is also a current shortage of rental and other housing options within the area, which puts pressure on people wanting to relocate to the city, officials said.

“As we all know, it is an employees market and so we wanted to continue to further the goal of trying to hire the best and retain folks and attract top talent,” City Manager Michael Ferris said.

Under the updated proposed policy, which was presented to council by Human Resources Director Dana Chaney, only the city manager has to reside within the city limits. All other employees, including the assistant city manager and department heads, must live within the 50-mile radius of city hall.

Councilman Benton Dry, who co-owns Dun-Rite Cleaners, said he has personally dealt with recruitment struggles as a business owner.

“I think we have to be inclusive versus exclusive,” he said. “It makes good sense in my mind that we move forward on the proposed policy in order to stay competitive.”

Chaney said that even though some employees don’t live within city or county limits, sometimes they decide to relocate.

“It’s a great community and we want people to join us and shape the community and come here,” she said.

After a motion to modify the residency requirements was offered by Councilman Chris Whitley and seconded by Councilman Dexter Townsend, the council passed it 6-1, with Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Sue Hall opposing it.

While she understands and appreciates the need to find top talent, Hall just wishes employees would have to live within city limits.

“Our employees are paid with tax money and I just would like for the folks who are making their living by the taxpayers of our city, I’d like for them to be living in our city and buying and taking part in our city,” Hall said after the meeting.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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