With budget passed, hard work truly beginsPublished 9:51pm Wednesday, September 25, 2013
There are two reasons to celebrate the passage of the city of Selma’s 2014 budget. One, it called for a balanced operating budget, even projecting a small surplus, and the second, is that it was passed before the 2014 fiscal year began.
For all the criticism we have cast upon city leadership, there are improvements being made in the way the council itself operates, which is again evidenced by the fact the mayor and council were able to come together and get the budget passed on time this year.
Another is the effort on the part of Selma City Council president Corey Bowie to streamline the council meetings. Although the use of work sessions, and other measures, have not resulted in noticeably shorter meetings, the effort is appreciated.
The tone of the council — at times — continues to be toxic depending on which topic is brought up. There continues to be real issues the council must address and the council is divided. Then again, sometimes the best government is the one that is not unanimous on each decision and where genuine discussion and debate occurs.
This council — as it is made up now — is less than a year old. It was just last August and October when those on the council were elected or re-elected, so there has been a feeling out process for new members and new leadership.
The new budget that kicks in next week is a tight budget and bets on increased revenues from improved tax collections and keeping expenses in check. It is important the city — under Selma Mayor George Evans’ leadership — continues to be conservative in how the money is spent, while at the same time making the investments in city services and infrastructure that are so desperately needed.
Over the next year, the council must make some difficult decisions when it comes to finishing projects like the amphitheater, finding ways to fund needed infrastructure work and — as we have called on them to do so — help put the money needed into the city’s police and fire departments to ensure those who risk their lives for our safety are properly compensated and given the necessary tools to do their job.
To some, the passage of a budget might not seem like a big deal, but when it comes to the operation of a city, a county, a school board or a governmental agency, it is a crucial task each year and at times — especially in Selma — one that is hard to get done on time.