If the Selma City Council approves a proposed plan that would add a nightly fee to the city’s lodging tax, the financial foundation of the YMCA of Selma could be much stronger. The plan would add $3 per night, per room to hotel accommodations within Selma. -- Tim Reeves

YMCA offers plan to city for long-term funding

Published 10:39pm Tuesday, October 23, 2012

More than 10 organizations came to the city council work session on Tuesday to ask for additional funding and the last organization on the list was the YMCA. The YMCA however asked for funding but in a way that would not be of any cost to the city. They proposed an idea that would generate an estimated $250,000 annually to stabilize the area’s YMCA program that is facing financial troubles.

The proposed plan would add a $3 per night, per room fee to the city’s lodging tax, generating the revenue. But, this plan only helps stabilize the YMCA’s long-term funding struggles. It in no way helps out with the YMCA’s short-term campaign to raise $1 million by Dec. 31 to fulfill an agreement with two financial institutions that would resolve roughly two-thirds of the YMCA’s debt.

“At this point, if we are not careful we are going to potentially lose the Y if we can’t sustain the debt that is there,” Selma Mayor George Evans said as he approached the council about the issue. “I support the concept of us working to save our Y and also coming up with a plan to save the Brown Y as well.”

YMCA of Selma volunteer board member Ronnie Leet provided the council the details of the plan during a Tuesday afternoon work session.

“One dollar of [the occupancy fee] would go to the city and $2 would go to the YMCA,” Leet said to the council. “This is a win-win proposition for both the city and the YMCA.”

Leet said the board’s estimation is that the additional lodging tax fee would generate $250,000 for the YMCA and an additional $125,000 for the city, “Which we are sure could be well used by the city,” Leet said.

Leet said those guests staying at Selma hotels would receive a guest pass to the YMCA during their stay.

“We would also offer memberships to the employees, managers and owners of all the hotels in the city … All of this is at no cost to the city,” Leet said

Council President Cecil Williamson decided the matter should first be turned over to the council’s administration committee, headed by council member Corey Bowie. The council after hearing the proposal, turned it over to the administration committee, under councilman Bowie, for further scrutiny.

Leet told members of the council that they had not yet discussed the matter with hotel owners and operators, “Because we need to have your blessing and it would be like having a big bulldog behind us.”

For more information on the YMCA of Selma’s current campaign — Why the Y? — designed to raise $1 million by Dec. 31, log on to www.ymcaofselma.org.

 

  • http://www.selmatimesjournal.com/ Tim Reeves

    Pop/Terry, thanks for your comments. This plan is actually above board and has been used with great success in Greenville, Ala.

    • popdukes12

      Really, with a private corp. receiving the proceeds of a city collected tax? What is the private company that is receiving the tax, and is it a retail tax, like this one? I know that in Florida, there are “enterprise zones” where they have been declared “blighted” areas and retain most of the state’s portion of the property tax to facilitate improvements. But, to simply direct collected tax dollars to a private business doesn’t sound correct. If I lived there, I would be in court challenging it. pops

  • popdukes12

    OK, Let me go on record as saying that there few people in Selma that I admire as much as Bill Porter. I wish Bill all the luck in the world in saving the “Y”…….But, I’m thinking someone needs to do some homework on this matter. State law is very clear concerning the giving of public tax dollars to entities that weren’t created by some governing body to start with. Selma has never observed this, and has just never been “called” on it. “Hush money” is often given out at council meetings to whichever “squeeky wheel” shows up. The Code of Alabama (1975) (section 11) says that any city money given out (gifts) must be to an organization that was created by some government entity, and be given for the good of ALL of the residents of that municipality. There are about 600 sub-codes in the section, and this is also spelled out in the league of Municipalities Handbook. To add to the cost of someone visiting our city would work against the tourism efforts, and have a negative impact on city revenues.
    Sure, Selma needs a “Y”, but to support a private business with public tax funds will open a “Pandora’s box” of other people wanting the same treatment. Obviously this can’t happen. pops

    • Terry Lewis

      We agree yet again,popdukes.:) This is a very sad situation. I’d hate to see such an asset to the community fall on hard times but this seems like a desperate–and wrongheaded– solution to a complicated problem.

      • Terry Lewis

        Really? If it’s a sound and tested plan–Mr.Reeves– then i’m all for it. But what about the million that’s needed now?

      • http://www.selmatimesjournal.com/ Tim Reeves

        Unfortunately, this plan does not solve their immediate need. This plan simply provides a stable funding program for the YMCA, giving them the flexibility to expand programs, scholarship children like they used to and maybe provide a way to make repairs to and utilize the Brown YMCA down the road. The $1 million that is needed by Dec. 31 is an agreement with two financial institutions to retire two-thirds of the YMCA’s debt.

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