D.C. City Councilman Marion Barry (D-at-large) proposed legislation yesterday that would require all new city employees to live in the District of Columbia and force some current city workers to risk losing their jobs if they moved out of Washington or moved from one suburb to another.
As proposed, the measure probably would become effective in early 1979, and would apply to about 43,000 persons regularly on the city's payroll, including the estimated 2,400 who are newly hired each year.
All of the city's present employees would retain their jobs when the legislation became effective. But in future hiring, preference would be given to city residents. Anyone not a resident at the time of hiring would have to move into Washington within six months.
With some exceptions, current cityemployees would lose their jobs immediately upon moving out of Washington. Employees who now live in the suburbs would lost their jobs if they move from their current residences to anywhere other than the District of Columbia.
Barry, an unannounced but likely candidate for mayor in 1978, said the major advantage of his proposal would be economic, because it could mean that an additional $260 million in salares now paid to suburban residents who work for the city would be given to D.C. residents instead.
"I think we will also have a more dedicated and concerned work force if we had a D.C. residency requirement," Barry said in a prepared statement. "The work force would be more competent as well, since it would have a better understanding of the city the employees serve and of the services which are delivered."
Councilman Arrington Dixon (D-Ward four), chairman of the Council's government operations committee, which is now considering legislation that would overhaul the city's personnel policies, said his committee already has considered and tentatively rejected strict residency requirements for current city employees similar to those proposed yesterday by Barry.
Dixon said that "by forcing low GS-level people to live in the District of Columbia, it could restrict them in terms of home ownership."
Moderate-income housing generally is believed to be less available in the city than in the suburbs, where more home building has taken place. In addition, suburban school systems generally are thought to be superior to the city school system.
Edward Meyers, Barry's principal assistant, said the Barry proposal was not designed to force city employees to "make financial sacrifices to work for the city. But as (the late Chicago Mayor Richard J.) Daley said, 'if they care enough for the city to work here, they ought to care enough for the city to live here:'"
While the personnel bill now pending before Dixon's committe does not require city employees who want to move from one suburb to another to move into the city, the proposed bill does give preference to city resident for civil service jobs as they become available.
The proposed bill also requires "policy level" city employees - those at the GS-15 level or above - to live in the city or move into the city once hired. Such policy level employees who currently live in Washington but then move out would forfeit their jobs.
At present about one out of every two regular city employees lives outside of the District of Columbia. Among higher-level employees - GS-9 and above - 61.5 per cent live outside the city. And, according to material assembled by Barry to support his proposal, more than half the GS-9 and above employees hired between July, 1976, and July, 1977, were suburban residents.