Council increases its discretionary funds

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 17, 2003

After Thursday night, Selma City Council members have a bit more money at their disposal.

A unanimous hand vote by council members at their special called meeting Thursday raised members’ and Mayor James Perkins Jr.’s discretionary funds from $5,000 to $10,000. Councilman B.L. Tucker wasn’t present.

Discretionary funds, which are used by elected officials for projects in their wards, was originally $15,000, but was lowered to $5,000 when the fiscal year 2003-04 budget was passed Oct. 1.

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The council began talking about discretionary funds when President George Evans asked for discussion on the matter. Councilwoman Rita Sims Franklin then motioned for an increase, and Councilman Glenn Sexton seconded.

Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw, though, questioned where the money would be found.

Perkins said the council had misguided priorities and instead of raising discretionary funds by $50,000 &045; $5,000 for each council member and himself &045; the council should instead fund the Sickle Cell Association. &uot;And if that means taking away all discretionary funds, then that’s my recommendation,&uot; Perkins said.

He added that the council had no right to allot discretionary funds during a campaign year for &uot;pet projects.&uot;

Perkins noted that he wanted the record to be clear that many council members attended initial budget meetings. &uot;But when you walked out of that room we still had $1.2 million to cut.&uot;

The council, Perkins said, was second-guessing the work that had been done on the budget.

Sexton, though, said he was concerned about Perkins asking the council to vote on the budget on Oct. 1, saying the council could return to the budget at a later date to amend it, and then criticizing the council when it did.

Councilman James Durry said he thought it was the council’s decision to ensure citizen’s money was used properly. &uot;The way I’m thinking, the council has the responsibility to see and question any line item,&uot; Durry said.

Following an executive session, the vote to increase discretionary funds passed unanimously.

Following the vote, City Treasurer Cynthia Mitchell, double-checked with the council about the movement of funds. According to Mitchell, the council had given the Selma Arts Council $10,000 and the health department $7,500. Fifty-five thousand dollars had been removed from the Alabama Power line item and $10,000 from the council special projects line item, which was moved to its discretionary funds. Forty thousand dollars from the Alabama Power line item was moved to the council’s discretionary funds, making the new total $100,000. The council agreed with Mitchell’s summary.

In other matters the council:

Entered an executive session. The motion was made by Councilwoman Nancy Sewell and seconded by Councilwoman Jean Martin. According to attorney Valerie Chittom, the executive session was called for pending litigation concerning the Friends of Forrest lawsuit.

Passed an ordinance raising garbage fees from $8 to $12. It will become effective Jan. 1, 2004. Out of eight council members present, all voted in favor, except Franklin and Sexton.

Passed an ordinance raising fees for building permits. The vote passed 7 – 1. Sexton opposed.

Passed an ordinance increasing cemetery fees. The vote passed 7 -1. Sexton opposed.

Voted unanimously to create a new position, assistant city clerk, at its Monday meeting. Ivy Harrison, formerly a legal secretary with the city attorney’s office, will serve as the assistant city clerk.