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Racine Mayor Cory Mason has proposed something in the 2022 city budget that’s worthy of serious consideration.

It’s really quite simple. The mayor wants to create an incentive for City of Racine employees to actually live in the City of Racine instead of someplace else. He’s offering to pay an extra 3 percent in wages and salary to city employees who live within the city limits. Those who choose to live outside the city won’t get the bonus.

To fund this incentive, Mayor Mason has set aside a modest $350,000 within next year’s proposed $84.7 million operating budget. You can find the whole proposed budget right here.

For now, at least, the live-in-the-city incentive won’t apply to unionized workers (like police and firefighters). But the mayor says he’d like to see it brought up in future bargaining.

Good for him, I say!

The mayor’s idea not only makes sense, it puts skin in the game.

Skin in the game means having a personal stake in the outcome of something. When the folks who cut grass, pick up trash, plow streets, inspect properties, issue permits, review planning documents and perform the myriad of other services required to make a city work are also city residents, they have something at stake. They’re not just drawing a City of Racine paycheck, they’re invested in the City of Racine.

By living and working in the same city, employees are also more likely to patronize local businesses, join local organizations, enroll their kids in local schools, worship locally and socialize. In short, they engage in all those things that make a community strong.

Lest critics label me a City Hall toady or a dewy-eyed Racine cheerleader, let me share my own experiences.

When my wife and I relocated here in 1989 so I could join the Racine Journal Times news staff, we got busy house hunting. It really didn’t occur to me to live anywhere other than the City of Racine. That’s because I felt it was important to live day-to-day and be able to rub elbows with the same community where I would be covering the news.

I had to have skin in the game.

I’ve been retired for almost three years now from a 40+ year career that included stints of commuting as well as periods of living and working in the same town. While some jobs were better than others, I always felt the most fulfilled and connected when the place I lived and worked in was one and the same.

Skin in the game. Racine needs more of it. We all need more of it.

The mayor’s proposal could help deliver that.


About the City of Racine

Founded in 1834, Racine, WI is located on the coast of Lake Michigan between Milwaukee and Chicago. Racine is home to several companies’ headquarters including SC Johnson, Modine, Case, Twin Disc, Insinkerator, and many more. Its beaches have been home to EVP Professional Beach Volleyball tournaments and the Ironman Triathalon. The Racine County Zoo, beautiful downtown area, parks, shopping, and so much more make Racine a great place to live. To learn more, check out RealRacine.com.

Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...