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Committee talks additional tax for fire, police dept. salaries

Published 1:13pm Thursday, November 22, 2012

When the Selma City Council Public Safety Committee met Tuesday, the idea of imposing a sin tax was brought up during a discussion of increasing salaries of those who work in public safety departments across the city.

Ward 5 councilman Samuel Randolph said he feels increasing the pay of officers and firemen is necessary because when the state opens up classes for troopers, and other surrounding cities offer jobs in public safety, Selma could lose good officers.

“We need to come up with ways to raise the revenue to give these people a pay raise,” Randolph said. “We are getting ready to start losing some people and I want us to come up with ways to raise the revenue. If it means raising taxes I’m fine with that — we have to do something to keep our officers here.”

As several weighed in during the meeting, the idea of a sin tax was proposed and the public safety committee asked if Mayor George Evans would check into the idea of the tax and check into that tax going towards a pay raise for those in the Selma Police Department as well as those working for Selma Fire and Rescue.

A sin tax is a tax imposed on certain goods and items and in other cities the tax has included items such as alcohol, tobacco, fast food items, coffee and gambling. Sin taxes discourage the public from using goods and services that are potentially harmful to health of residents and therefore, the sin tax is seen as a preventative measure for disease and sickness. The revenue from the tax is then used for the public, and in this case public safety.

“We owe another dialogue,” Evans said about the tax. “Let’s make sure that we include everybody, [the public safety] salary can be much higher but by the same token, to give one segment of our departments a raise it would say to other departments ‘you aren’t important.’”

Evans agreed to look into a sin tax, or other ways to increase the salary for public safety officers. There was no decision reached about a new tax, just a discussion.

The current sales tax in the city of Selma is a 9.5 percent sales tax — 4 percent for the city, 4 percent for the state and in December an additional 1.5 percent will go towards Dallas County.

  • popdukes12

    It was brought to the attention of the council that the police Dept.had used 800 hours of overtime in October, and that this was eating up the labor budget for the police dept. while the Fire Dept. had only used 15 hours of overtime for the same period. Talking to police officers, the people that are not getting these overtime hours are feeling left out and they may be the ones looking for another police dept. The city gives Amer-i-corp about $280,000 a year. Amer-i-corp is a national group that is producing the “brown shirt” youth groups along with other questionable activities, this could be unfunded, and redirect the funds to the police dept. The police dept should be able to project their labor needs better so their labor needs can be budgeted properly. The council had nine different groups come before it for funds at the last meeting. The Administration committee should come up with some guidelines as to who can come before them and request funding. That would help. pops.

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