Until last Thursday, there was a law on the books that said if you wanted to work full-time for Helper City, you had to live in Helper City. That law is gone.
By unanimous vote, the City Council repealed the section of its code that imposed the residency requirement for two reasons:
First, as explained by Mayor Dean Armstrong, the old law needlessly restricted the pool of talent available to the city. The second reason, which arose during council discussion, was that the city could be liable for charges of discrimination if the council waived the requirement for some employees but not for others.
Better to do away with the law and include some of its provisions in the city's employment policy, the council decided.
Matters came to a head when the council was asked to waive the requirement for two employees - long-term public works employee Armand Clark Pierucci and police officer John Stephens. Both want to reside in Price.
There was some concern in Stephens' case that if police officers lived out of town it might delay emergency response. However, councilman Chris Pugliese, himself a cop, noted that there's enough backup of on-duty law enforcement among Price City, the Sheriff's Department and Highway Patrol. Citing the example of a middle-of-the-night call, Pugliese said that there would not be much difference between the time it takes for a Helper officer to wake up, get in uniform and proceed to the scene, and the time it would take for someone already in uniform to race to Helper from somewhere nearby.
Besides, there are Price police living in Helper.
As to how far away is too far - a Helper officer living in Ferron or East Carbon, for example - the council will have to define that and put it in the policy manual.
The repeal will not affect the residency requirement for elected officials. That is mandated by state law. Part-timers, such as pool lifeguards, were never affected by the ordinance.