Statistics show less than a third of city employees live in Evanston

Kimberly Railey

It is not uncommon to serve for Evanston and live outside of it, a new statistic from the city’s Human Resource department reveals. According to the data, 28.5 percent of the city’s 838 workers live within city boundaries.

“We’re happy that the majority of our employees live nearby,” City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said. “But not everyone has to live here. And I think in this day and age, it’s unrealistic that would occur.”

Bobkiewicz said over an extended period of time, some employees have moved to other communities or have left and been replaced by non-Evanston residents. Still, almost 25 percent of city employees are from Chicago and about 60 of the 838 employees are from Skokie, Ill., the statistics show.

“We certainly want our employees to understand the community,” Bobkiewicz said. “And if we’ve got 50 to 60 percent of our employees living in Evanston, Chicago or Skokie, chances are they’re very familiar with Evanston.”

Bobkiewicz said the employees’ ethnic makeup almost perfectly mirrors that of city residents. The city strives to encourage residents to serve their community, he added.

“When we recruit for new employees, we’re always looking first to see if Evanston residents have an opportunity to at least apply for jobs,” Bobkiewicz said.

Evanston’s Fire Department is one such department now aiming to recruit more city residents, Fire Chief Greg Klaiber said. Currently, only 12 out of its 110 personnel live in the city, Klaiber said.

To increase this number, Klaiber worked with the Evanston City Council to pass an ordinance that will give two extra points to residents on the fire department’s entrance examination held May 21. These points improve a candidate’s likelihood of being hired, he said.

“I think it’s important that those who were brought up here will want to get on the job here and serve the community they grew up in and live in,” said Klaiber, who was raised in Evanston.

Despite this initiative, Klaiber said he is not aiming to take away the opportunities of those who live outside city bounds.

“They do a great job every day, ” he said. “I just wanted to provide more of an opportunity for our youth to get on the job here.”

No discrepancy exists in the job performances of Evanston residents and non-residents, Klaiber said.

“If you don’t live or reside in this community and haven’t grown up here, you also have to learn the community,” he said. “Once you’re here for a couple years, you learn the community itself and your way around town and how we operate.”

Even so, Klaiber maintained the benefits of working for one’s town are inherent.

“You feel good about what you do, and you’re serving not only your community, but folks that you know around town – friends, neighbors, acquaintances,” he said. “It’s very fulfilling.”

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