Split council vote approves half-cent increase in Selma

Published 11:14pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Those items for sale in Selma or services rendered are set to get a little more expensive in Selma.

The Selma City Council approved the passage of a half-cent sales tax increase, moving the city’s tax rate to 4.5 percent. The passage of the increase in the sales tax came without a concrete plan to allocate the funding, but the council did vote to set aside the revenue in a separate account.

Overall, when combining county and state sales taxes, the sales tax rate in Selma now moves to a total of 10 percent. The new tax rate will likely begin in April.

Selma Mayor George Evans said the amendment is, “a work in progress and there is no set in stone way of how we are going to do things, because we don’t know what the revenue is going to be yet between now and November and December.”

The talks of the half-cent sales tax raise began in November in a public safety committee meeting when chairman and Ward 5 council member Samuel Randolph advocated that public safety officials were not being paid competitive salaries and leaving to go to other cities.

Since then, Evans has suggested that all employees be given a raise across the board through a one-time bonus check. He said he forecasts that the amount be $1,000 for every full-time employee and $600 for part time city workers.

“However, in talking with our council,” Evans said, “I want to try to look and modify that to possibly make an incentive based raise on number of years of service.”

But Evans went on to say that at this point in time, he is not sure of what the revenues of the tax will be so, “If the city council will approve the half-cent then that will give us an opportunity to see what the revenue would be from now until November and December. So then, based on revenue, we will determine together as to how we will disperse the money to our employees, agencies and city government.”

Ward 1 council member Cecil Williamson and Ward 7 council member Bennie Ruth Crenshaw voted against the measure, while Ward 2 council member Susan Keith, Ward 3 councilmember Greg Bjelke, Ward 4 council member Angelia Benjamin, Ward 6 council member B.L. Tucker and council president Corey Bowie voted for the measure. Randolph was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Ward 8 council member Michael Johnson said in the discussion, before he abstained to vote, that he did not feel right about the amendment and that the council members needed to, “come together about what we are going to do [with the added revenue].” He said he believes that if the residents are going to be responsible for paying this then, “They are going to want their tax money to be paid like it should be paid.”

The current sales tax rate, after Tuesday’s vote, is a total of 10 percent — with 4.5 percent going towards the city, 4 percent going towards the state and an additional 1.5 percent tax is paid to Dallas County.

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