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Anderson v. Dep't of Public Property

OPINION FILED FEBRUARY 4, 1986.

MARK E. ANDERSON, APPELLANT,

v.

THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC PROPERTY, CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, ET AL., APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. Richard E. Mann, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE MCCULLOUGH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff Mark E. Anderson appeals from an order of the circuit court of Sangamon County, sitting in administrative review (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 110, par. 3-101 et seq.) pursuant to section 10-1-45 of the Illinois Municipal Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 24, par. 10-1-45), which affirmed an order of the Springfield civil service commission, which had upheld plaintiff's discharge from employment with the city of Springfield. Pursuant to ordinance No. 794-10-76, enacted October 26, 1976, the city established the requirement that all city employees maintain their domicile and bona fide place of residence within the corporate limits of the city of Springfield during all periods of employment with the city. (Springfield, Ill., Ordinance 794-10-76, sec. 1 (October 26, 1976).) This ordinance has been codified at section 2.5.2 of the city's code. (Springfield, Ill., Code sec. 2.5.2 (1976).) Written charges were filed with the city civil service commission against plaintiff, a relief operating engineer with Springfield's department of public property; and plaintiff was given a 30-day suspension pending termination. The commission, as affirmed by the circuit court, ordered plaintiff's termination and discharge from employment with the department. On appeal, plaintiff argues that (1) the decision of the civil service commission was against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (2) the sanction of discharge was inappropriate in light of lesser sanctions recently imposed upon employees in similar circumstances. We affirm.

By letter of November 10, 1983, the city's director of personnel, William Capie, wrote to plaintiff advising him of section 2.5.2, which provided:

"(a) All officers and employees of the City of Springfield shall maintain their domicile and bona fide place of residence within the corporate limits of the City of Springfield during all periods of service with the city. This section shall include all part-time, full-time and temporary employees.

(b) If any person affected by this section fails to comply with its provisions, he or she shall be immediately discharged and employment shall be terminated with the City of Springfield by the appropriate commissioner of the Springfield city council.

(c) Any person employed by the City of Springfield or any of its departments who shall move his bona fide residence outside the corporate limits of the City of Springfield while so employed and after the effective date of Ordinance No. 794-10-76 shall submit his resignation forthwith or otherwise have his employment terminated.

(d) This section shall be applied prospectively only; however, if an individual who is employed by the city prior to the enactment of Ordinance No. 794-10-76 lives, resides or otherwise maintains a bona fide residence outside the corporate limits of the City of Springfield, then his continued employment shall not be affected; provided, however, that any individual whose property shall be annexed or who shall move into the city after the effective date of Ordinance No. 794-10-76 shall be subject to the requirements of this section in that employment shall be terminated shall such individual change his bona fide residence to a residence outside the corporate limits of the City of Springfield, Illinois, subsequently." (Springfield, Ill., Code secs. 2.5.2(a) through (d) (1976).)

Capie's letter went on to inform plaintiff that the city council had reaffirmed the residency requirement "with its adoption of Employment Policies on January 5, 1982, in Article I, Section 5 * * *." The letter continued:

"Evidence exists that you reside in Roby, Illinois, and are, therefore, not in compliance with the City's residency requirement. You are hereby requested to demonstrate to this office that you are in compliance with the City's residency requirement within 15 days from the receipt of this letter or to resign your position of employment with the City. If you fail to do either, appropriate steps shall be undertaken to have you discharged from employment."

The plaintiff wrote Capie shortly thereafter, informing him that he had moved from 1124 North 4th Street in Springfield about a month earlier, and was residing at 1425 South Grand Avenue East in Springfield. Plaintiff also stated that his house in Roby had been purchased sometime earlier with the intent to rent it out, but due to personal problems with his wife, this had not taken place.

When written charges were filed on January 18, 1985, plaintiff requested a hearing before the commission which was conducted on February 18, 1985. The commission's order of March 4, 1985, terminated and discharged plaintiff from employment, stating that the evidence had specifically shown:

"d. That [plaintiff] and his spouse entered into a contract for deed with Dorothy Snyder for the purchase of residential property in Roby, Illinois, dated November 16, 1981.

e. That [plaintiff's] son was enrolled in the Mount Auburn Grade School, Mount Auburn, Illinois on November 25, 1981, and remained enrolled there until January 28, 1985.

f. That [plaintiff] had maintained no utility account with the City of Springfield, Illinois, since 1978 and specifically maintained no utility accounts with the City for 1124 ...


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