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Seneca board allows police chief to reside outside village

30 applications received for leadership opening

The Seneca Village Board has approved an ordinance amendment that would allow the yet-to-be-hired police chief to reside within a 15-mile radius of village limits.

Seneca’s residency requirement ordinance requires certain village officials reside within city limits as an employment condition. Village attorney Rob Russo asked the council to consider amending the ordinance to allow the new, yet-to-be hired police chief to live outside village limits. The council was divided on the issue.

Jeff Olson, streets and public improvements commissioner, thought the police chief should reside within or close to village limits “for the safety of residents.”

“If it’s the contention of the council to provide the new chief with a squad car, there will be the added cost of gas and/or vehicle wear if the new chief lives beyond village limits,” Olson said.

Olson indicated residents have contacted him to say the police chief should live within village limits but that a five to 15-mile radius would be sufficient. Accounts and Finance Commissioner Rick Barla believed all appointed employees should live within village limits.

Mayor David Spicer disagreed.

“I think a reasonable radius should be set and that employees should not be required to live within village limits,” the mayor said. “The police chief position is a 24/7 job. Allowing the chief to live outside village limits would provide more options finding decent housing. It just gives everyone more options.”

Rich Applebee, commissioner of public health and safety, agreed with Spicer.

“If all appointed employees were required to reside within village limits, it would restrict employee skill sets,” Applebee said.

On another police matter, there are 30 applications filed with Seneca for the police chief position.

“The small village atmosphere is something attractive to people looking to make a change,” Applebee said. “So, I’m a little surprised at the number of applicants, but not really surprised at the interest.”

Applebee said the hope is to have a new police chief named by the next board meeting Tuesday, April 17.

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