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Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

NEW ORLEANS -- In a unanimous vote Thursday, New Orleans council members kept most of the existing residency rules for city employees in place, despite resistance from police and fire unions.

'I don't see how a domicile ordinance, in any way shape or form, measures your commitment to the city,' said attorney Raymond Burkhart, III, who represents the New Orleans area Fraternal Order of Police.

Burkhart highlighted that argument by pointing out that NOPD Officer John Passaro, who was severely wounded in a shooting last month, lives outside the city.

'Can anyone honestly say, in any way shape or form, that they question this man's sincerity and dedication to the citizens of New Orleans? I don't think you can,' Burkhart said.

However, employees living outside the city before Jan. 1 are exempt and can stay put.

The long-standing ordinance -- suspended after Hurricane Katrina was reinstated Jan. 1.

'I was really glad to see that those folks, those men and women who are out there doing their job every day, who stood by during Katrina, you know, where given that option of maintaining,' said Nick Felton, president of the New Orleans Fire Fighters Association.

Wednesday, council members passed an amendment that allows new hires living outside New Orleans 180 days to move to the city.

But even with that grace period, some argue the rules will only hurt recruiting efforts.

Some on both sides of the issue agree, the city needs incentives to help lure potential hires -- especially when it comes to the New Orleans Police Department.

'We need to do whatever we can do to get those people invested in the city of New Orleans and get those police recruit numbers up. I am absolutely unsatisfied with the efforts that we've had thus far,' said City Council President Stacy Head.

'It's the city's job to sell itself, not to keep people locked down in order for them to want to live in the city,' Burkhart said.

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