Springfield city councilors want more municipal employees to live within the city that pays them.
Just more than half of Springfield's 924 city workers actually live within city limits.
Now some city councilors say they'd be willing to spend up to $800,000 a year to keep them here.
"We want people who live in the city, spend seven days a week here; do their grocery shopping, buy their gas, buy their dinner buy their lunch, we want people in the city," said Springfield City Council Member John Lysak.
Since 1995, the city has technically had a residency requirement. Councilors say for years, it has gone unenforced.
There have been various proposals to bring it back, including the possibility of suspending employees for two weeks without pay.
That didn't go as planned.
"It's unacceptable to write rules and then enforce them inequitably, that's a part of what we're attempting to address," said city council member, Michael Fenton.
Now they're trying to incentivize living here by paying employees a bonus ranging from $250 to $1,000 a year based on the length of their employment.
If the proposal passes through city council, it could ultimately cost the city anywhere from $200,000 to $800,000 per year.
In a city with a tight budget, some taxpayers say that's a tall order.
"I don't think that's fair because anywhere else you work, you don't get paid to live in the city," said resident Christina Golsberry.
"I think $1,000 is a real lot," said resident Julie George
Some residents even propose non-monetary bonuses like annual passes to local museums or sporting events.
"Other benefits should be given though, you should be given something, some incentive to stay in the city," George said.
Councilors say over time, though, the requirement costs will disappear.
"There will be some up front costs associated with the bonus program, those costs will dwindle over time and every year they will diminish until such time that they no longer exist," Fenton said.
Under this proposal any new employees starting Jan. 1, 2013 will have to live in the city.
Councilors may vote on it at their meeting on Nov. 19.
Copyright 2012 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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