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Council defers fee increases

According to Mayor James Perkins Jr., the Selma City Council’s decision to &uot;defer&uot; a vote on ordinances raising various fees for services will negatively affect Selmians.

At the council’s Monday meeting two votes to suspend Robert’s Rules of Order, a set of parliamentary procedures the council uses, failed when Councilman Glenn Sexton voted &uot;no.&uot;

Ordinances must first be placed on first reading before the council votes on them, which means the council would examine them at their next meeting. A unanimous vote to suspend the rules allows the council to vote on ordinances at the same meeting.

The council examined a number of ordinances Monday, including two concerning raising fees for building permits and cemetery fees.

When discussing the ordinance about raising building permit fees, Councilwoman Nancy Sewell said the ordinance could be placed on first reading, but Perkins said doing so would ensure making the budget fail to balance.

According to Perkins, the fiscal year 2003 – 2004 budget, which passed Oct. 1, had already accounted for the raised fees. By not passing the ordinances concerning those raised fees, discrepancies would occur in the budget.

A vote to suspend the rules and allow a vote on the ordinance failed when Sexton’s negative vote was cast.

Building permit fees currently begin at $15 and are valid for 90 days.

The vote stopped once Sexton cast his vote, but Perkins asked President George Evans to continue polling council members.

Evans, however, declined to continue the vote and said he wanted procedure to remain consistent. &uot;I’m just basically going to stick by this one,&uot; Evans said.

A similar vote to suspend the rules on an ordinance concerning raised fees for lots and burials at cemeteries also failed when Sexton cast a negative vote.

Fees would rise by around $25 to $50 if the ordinance passes at a later date.

Perkins added that the council had been consistent in turning back revenues and added that he would be interested in seeing what would happen when the council began discussing expenditures.

Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw said she wanted a special called meeting on Thursday so council members could continue with the city’s business.

Both ordinances will be addressed at a special called meeting of the council this Thursday at 5 p.m.

In other matters the council:

Appropriated $17,500 from the unpaid projects line item in the 2003 – 2004 budget for the Selma Arts Council and the health department. The arts council will receive $10,000 while the health department will receive $7,500.

Entered an executive session at the request of City Attorney Jimmy Nunn. Nunn requested the council enter the executive session to discuss pending litigation and good name and character.

The motion to enter the executive session was made by Sewell and seconded by Councilwoman Rita Sims Franklin.

It passed unanimously.