Racine Mayor Cory Mason has proposed something in the 2022 city budget that should be seriously considered.
It is really very simple. The mayor wants to create an incentive for the employees of the city of Ratschings, actually live in the town of Racine instead of elsewhere. He offers to pay municipal employees who live within the city limits an additional 3 percent in wages and salaries. Those who choose to live outside the city do not receive the bonus.
To fund this incentive, Mayor Mason has allocated a modest $ 350,000 within the proposed operating budget of $ 84.7 million for next year. The full proposed budget can be found here.
For the time being, at least, the urban living incentive does not apply to unionized workers (such as police and fire brigades). But the mayor says he would like to bring it up in future negotiations.
Good for him, I say!
The mayor’s idea not only makes sense, it brings skin into play.
Skin in the game means having a personal stake in the outcome of something. When the people who mow grass, pick up trash, plow roads, inspect land, issue permits, review planning documents, and provide the myriad of other services that make a city work are also city dwellers, something is at stake. Not only are they drawing a paycheck for the city of Racine, they are invested in the city of Racine.
By living and working in the same city, employees are also more likely to support local businesses, join local organizations, enroll their children in local schools, pray locally, and socialize. In short, they are committed to all of the things that make a community strong.
Let me share my own experiences so that critics don’t refer to me as a City Hall toad or a Racine cheerleader with dewy eyes.
When my wife and I moved here in 1989 to join the Racine Journal Times news staff, we were busy looking for an apartment. It really didn’t occur to me to live anywhere other than the town of Racine. That’s because it was important to me to live day in and day out and to be able to rub with the same community that I would be covering the news with.
I had to have skin in the game.
I’ve been retired for nearly three years now, from a career spanning over 40 years that included both commuting times and times living and working in the same city. While some jobs were better than others, I always felt most fulfilled and connected when the place where I lived and worked was one and the same.
Skin in the game. Racine needs more of it. We all need more of it.
The mayor’s suggestion could help.
About the city of Racines
Racine, WI was founded in 1834 and is located on the shores of Lake Michigan between Milwaukee and Chicago. Racine is home to several corporate offices including SC Johnson, Modine, Case, Twin Disc, Insinkerator and many more. EVP Professional beach volleyball tournaments and the Ironman Triathlon were held on its beaches. Racine County Zoo, beautiful downtown, parks, shopping, and more make Racine a great place to live. To learn more, visit RealRacine.com.