Proposed Sturbridge Department Head Residency Requirements 2

I have come into possession of the following proposal for the next Sturbridge Town Meeting:

To see if the Town will vote to amend the General Bylaws, Chapter Eight to add the following new Section entitled Department Head Residency Requirements:



In an effort to enhance the quality of employee performance through greater personal knowledge of and experience with the community’s conditions; and, to develop a greater personal stake in the community’s progress, while reducing the potential for absences and tardiness; and to ensure the ready availability of trained and critical management personnel in emergencies; and to foster the general economic benefits which result from spending ones salary in the employing community, while sharing associated local tax burdens and creating a greater sense of ownership within the community; the Town of Sturbridge hereby establishes the following residency requirements:


  1. All newly appointed Department Heads (i.e. Post the adoption of this bylaw) as identified in the Town’s Organizational Chart shall establish residency in the Town of Sturbridge within 12 months of the successful conclusion of their 6 month probationary period.
  2. Failure to establish such residency within the established time-period shall be deemed to be a resignation from the office held by the Department Head.


  1. All currently serving Department Heads as identified in the Town’s Organizational Chart shall establish residency in Town of Sturbridge within 18 months of the effective date of adoption of this General Bylaw.
  2. Failure to establish such residency within the established time-period shall be deemed to be a resignation from the office held by the Department Head.




  1. As generally defined and accepted by the Courts, Residency shall be construed to be the actual domicile of the individual where he/she normally east and sleeps and maintains his/her normal personal and household effects.



  1. For the purpose of this general bylaw a Department Head shall be defined as any one of the following:
    1. Any position currently determined as such on the Town of Sturbridge Organizational Chart under the organizational block of the Board of Selectmen; or
    2. Any position/individual under the organizational block of the Board of Selectmen who is made eligible for year-end merit/incentive bonuses; or
    3. Any future department head positions as may be established from time-totime under the Town of Sturbridge Organizational Chart under the organizational block of the Board of Selectmen or any position/individual made eligible for year-end merit/incentive bonuses under the organizational block of the Board of Selectmen.


  1. The Board of Selectmen may issue Temporary Hardship Waivers when in their judgment a substantial documented hardship exists (e.g. medical issues of a serious nature involving immediate family, clearly defined/documented financial hardship, or other hardships that clearly dictate the need and value of issuing a temporary waivers).
  2. Temporary Hardship Waivers will be granted for no more than six months and may be extended for an additional six month period if in the judgment of the Board said extension is in the mutual best interests of both the Department Head and the Town.
  3. Temporary Hardship Waivers shall in no case be used as a means of providing anything other than short-term relief from this bylaw when clearly documented circumstances exist that warrant said waiver, and in no case shall waivers be extended beyond a total of 12 months (i.e. two 6-month extensions


I understand that the Sturbridge Board of Selectmen will take up this proposal at their next meeting on Tuesday, April 9, at 6:00PM in the Sturbridge Town Hall.  If you are not already incensed at the idea of this proposal, perhaps in the following comments I can convince you to amass at the meeting to oppose the very idea of such a bylaw.

I wonder what gets into the minds of Selectmen and City Councilors that they think that passing laws like this is a good idea and will improve the performance of town or city employees. I won’t try to guess at motivations, but I will try, as calmly as I can, to explain why these types of laws are horrible, inhumane, and bad management techniques.

I think a lot of damage has already been done to the morale of the town employees at the mere proposal of such a bylaw.  The description of the purpose of such a bylaw is an insult and an affront in its wording.  The only way we, as residents, can try to mitigate the damage is to show up en mass to let the town employees know how much we disapprove of this proposal, and that we will not allow such proposals to even make it to Town Meeting to sully the reputation of Sturbridge as a place to live, work, and do business.

I know that there are various theories of management.  During my working career there was Theory X and Theory Y.

From WikiPedia we  have definitions of these theories.

For Theory X, WikiPedia gives the definition:

In this theory, which has been proven counter effective in most modern practice, management assumes employees are inherently lazy and will avoid work if they can and that they inherently dislike work.

For Theory Y, WikiPedia gives the definition:

In this theory, management assumes employees may be ambitious and self-motivated and exercise self-control. It is believed that employees enjoy their mental and physical work duties. According to them work is as natural as play. They possess the ability for creative problem solving, but their talents are underused in most organizations. Given the proper conditions, theory Y managers believe that employees will learn to seek out and accept responsibility and to exercise self-control and self-direction in accomplishing objectives to which they are committed.

To me, the Sturbridge proposal is an example of the theory  that you have to be an A-hole to be an effective manager.  I  don’t know if this has ever been called Theory A.  I, for one, have never aspired to be a Theory A nor a Theory X manager, I never want to aspire to be such a manager, and I never want to have it be thought that I support such management practices even if only in my name.

I would never work under such conditions,  I would not want to foist such conditions on people who would work for me, and I  do not think it should even be legal for an employer to insist on such conditions.

Let’s consider a few circumstances that a human being might find themselves in, that the BOS may not have considered.  This is not meant as a list of items for which they ought to write complex rules and exemptions.  This is just part of an infinite list of considerations that make this law impossible to rescue.

  1. What if the spouse of the employee works for another town that has similar residency requirements?  Is it supposed to be easy to decide which one gives up the job or if they need to divorce?
  2. What if the spouse has a private sector job that makes it difficult to move?  A doctor may have offices in the residence.  Or the spouse may be a Mayor or some other political office holder that insists on residence to hold the position?
  3. What if a child in the family has a long term commitment to the town in which they currently live? Perhaps the child has been in the school system for 9 or so years and has more than 18 months before completion? What if the child is in a special education program for children with special needs?  Does the Town of Sturbridge want to assume the cost and the disruption that changing schools would entail?  Perhaps the current residence has extensive modification for someone, child or adult, with special needs.
  4. Is the Town of Sturbridge offering to defray the cost of selling a house, buying a new house, moving the contents of the house, and upgrading the new house for the special needs person?  How could the town be so cruel as to insist on residency and not pay for its rule?
  5. Perhaps the worker has to care for a person who cannot be moved and will live longer than the 18 months of waivers provided in this bylaw?  Are we expecting a prospective employee to make life and death decisions to take an offered job?
  6. What if the employee lives in a house that has been in his or her family for hundreds of years?  Are they expected to give that up for a job that won’t last nearly that long?
  7. Do we want to hire people with such poor qualifications that the only job they can get is one with such inhumane rules?

I just don’t understand how people can think that the Golden Rule says, “Do unto others, as the worst that may have been done to you?”  As a citizen of Sturbridge, do you want the rest of Massachusetts, the country, and the world to think this is the Sturbridge mindset?  If you don’t speak up against this, what are people to think?


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2 thoughts on “Proposed Sturbridge Department Head Residency Requirements

  • SteveG Post author

    Reader RichardH wondered:

    What does it say about the talent and competence of our elected officials who wish to restrict the pool of talented and competent potential employees to provide excellent services to our town?

  • SteveG Post author

    The word is that this issue will not be discussed at the Board Of Selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday, April 9.

    It might still be worthwhile to show up in numbers so that we can comment on the possibility of the residency requirement. If we let it be known what we think of the idea, maybe it will never raise its ugly head again.