Like neighboring Philadelphia, Delaware County has a residency requirement for its county employees. But now the Delaware County Council is considering loosening that requirement in order to find the qualified workers the county needs.

Wednesday night, County Solicitor William Martin introduced a change to policy that would allow the county to hire non-residents who pledge to move into Delaware County within three months. Agency heads would be able to push the deadline back to one year, and perhaps up to two years in some circumstances.

Elaine Paul Schaefer argued in favor of eliminating a residency requirement entirely, noting that none of the other collar counties — Chester, Bucks, or Montgomery — have one.

“I do not think we should have a residency requirement,” said council member Elaine Paul Schaefer. “I think we may lose out on qualified candidates who live in the surrounding counties. It takes me longer to get to Media than it would someone who lives in West Philadelphia.”

But council members Kevin Madden, Dr. Monica Taylor, and Christine Reuther, argued it should be kept.

“We are a diverse county,” said Madden. “I think we need people here who understand Delaware County and what the impacts of government decisions are on residents.”

“We might want to have a waiver for the requirement,” said Dr. Taylor, noting that the amendment offers the kind of change she would like to see in the requirement.

Municipalities like Philadelphia have been debating residency requirements for decades. In June, Philadelphia City Council passed an ordinance requiring all new hires for civil service positions to have lived in the city for at least a year prior to being appointed. Philadelphia is the only one of America’s 30 biggest cities to have such a rule.

There is little data to show that residency requirements have any impact on job performance, good or bad.

The council will go over the amendment again for a second reading. No decision was made Wednesday night, but Schaefer conceded it is likely the amendment will win, as most council members voiced support.

The council also approved the following for the coming year:

  • Renewed the county’s service and support agreement with MTS Software Solutions for $136,626.
  •  Accepted the Code Blue Award Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development in the amount of $78,355.
  • Approved purchase of $55,000 in information technology equipment for the Children and Youth Services.
  • Authorized purchase of 15 Chevrolet Bolts, which are electric vehicles. Cost per vehicle is $29,300 and total allotted is $439,500.
  • Awarded contract for LGB Mechanical Inc. to replace the 3rd floor HVAC system in the Delaware County Courthouse for a price not to exceed $228,000.
  • Approved advertising for bids to provide janitorial, household and paper products for Fair Acres Geriatric Center for one year.
  • Awarded $79,000 contract to W.B. Masons to furnish office supplies for the Delaware County Courthouse and Fair Acres for two years.