City OK’s YMCA deal

Published 7:42pm Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A vote for the city of Selma to enter into a contract with the Selma Dallas County YMCA was approved at Tuesday’s meeting. The contract approved for 75 percent of the revenue of an increased lodging fee for those hotels in the city limits to go towards the YMCA — its capital purposes and the retirement of its multi-million dollar debt.

The contract term was approved for a minimum of three years, but the council has the privilege to opt out of the contract at any point in time after January 2014.

Though the increased lodging fee was approved and went into effect in January, city attorney Jimmy Nunn said the funds would go to the YMCA retroactively.

Prior to the vote, there was discussion as to why the contract between the city and the YMCA did not stipulate that a portion of the lodging fee go towards reviving the Brown YMCA, an older facility that is no longer in use. When the lodging fee was increased to $2, the ordinance stated that $1.50 go towards the YMCA and the other 50 cents be put in a separate account and possibly used for the Brown YMCA.

Nunn said there was no need to put that in the contract because, “this contract is with the YMCA and the YMCA does not have anything to do with that 50 cent [fee] … so there is no need to put that in an agreement with [the YMCA] because this money is in a city of Selma account — so they can’t tell us what to do with it.”

Mayor George Evans explained that from the beginning of the conversations about lodging fees helping the YMCA, he was concerned about the Brown YMCA. He said he has suggested that the facility be used or given to an agency such as the Boys and Girls Club.

But apart from a discussion about the Brown YMCA, there was also a conversation before the vote on the terms of how long the contract would last.

Ward 4 councilwoman Angela Benjamin was the only council member to submit requests about the contract to the city attorney and so her suggestion of entering into a contract for one year was written in the contract. She suggested that following one year, “We can review it after one year to see if the YMCA still needs the funds —and if they do then we can vote and enter into the agreement again,” Benjamin said. “I just think it is appropriate.”

Though the written contract had followed Benjamin’s suggestion, Ward 1 Councilman Cecil Williamson made a motion to extend the contract to three years, with the option to opt out of the contract by both parties in January 2014. This was also the recommendation made by the Selma Dallas County YMCA attorney, John Calame.

The council approved the amendment to the contract with Ward 1 councilman Cecil Williamson, Ward 2 council member Susan Keith, Ward 5 council member B.L. Tucker and Ward 3 council member Greg Bjelke voting yes. Ward 4 council member Angela Benjamin, Ward 6 council member Bennie Ruth Crenshaw and Ward 8 council member Michael Johnson voted no. President Corey Bowie abstained from all votes on the contract because of his involvement with the YMCA board.

The amended contract was then approved with the same vote count.

  • popdukes12

    Ms. Benjamin’s amendment also included a stipulation that city funds couldn’t be used for salaries, and were limited to helping retire the loan for the “Y”. This was the original intent for the additional lodging “fee” to start with. I don’t see why Dr. Williamson objected to that. pops.

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