Bruce McNabb’s exit as head of the Prairie Village Public Works Department last week has prompted a change to the city’s residency requirements for staff — a change City Administrator Quinn Bennion hopes will attract a talented pool of applicants for the open position.
Bennion argued that the requirement presented an obstacle to metro-area candidates who may be hesitant to move their families for the job, and asked that it be lifted for the public works director and police chief positions.
“I do value my residency in Prairie Village,” Bennion said. “It’s helped me engage in the community and my neighborhood. But residency is not a guarantee of involvement in the community, as we have observed recently.”
Bennion noted that the city did not require other high-level officials — like the Assistant City Administrator and Finance Director — to live in the city, and that it hadn’t resulted in problems.
But Councilor Michael Kelly objected to the idea of waiving the residency requirement for public works director and police chief, saying that it would be “going against progressive-minded communities across the country,” but the majority of the council sided with Bennion.
After some discussion, the council agreed to lift the city residency requirement and require only that Prairie Village’s public works director and police chief reside within Johnson County. Councilors Kelly, Andrew Wang and Ted Odell voted against the measure.
The council on Tuesday also approved the appointment of Keith Bredehoeft, the public works department’s project manager, as interim public works director.