Council debates business licenses

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 4, 2003

The devil’s in the details when it comes to differences between water boards and water authorities. Those details, though, will determine who must purchase a business license from the City of Selma and who doesn’t.

At the Selma City Council’s Oct. 27 meeting, an ordinance requiring the Selma Water Works and Sewer Board to purchase a business license passed by a 6 to 3 vote. The ordinance could raise $100,000 to $120,000 for the city.

Previously, the water board wasn’t required to purchase the annual license.

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Discussion returned to the ordinance at the council’s Monday meeting after Councilwoman Rita Sims Franklin brought the subject up. According to Franklin, she’s received numerous calls about a possible 3 percent rate increase for water.

Water board chairman Billy Hicks has said previously that passage of the ordinance could cause the water board to increase its rates.

Franklin presented a portion of the Code of Alabama at the meeting and focused council members’ attentions on the last sentence, which states, &uot;No license or excise tax may be imposed on any authority in respect of the privilege of engaging in any of the activities authorized by this chapter.&uot;

City Attorney Jimmy Nunn, though, pointed out that the ordinance specifically concerns water and sewer boards. &uot;This says ‘authority,’&uot; Nunn said of the code.

According to Nunn, the water board operates under a separate section of code. The portion Franklin had concerns water authorities, which are different from water boards.

President George Evans said he wanted anyone concerned about the ordinance to come before the council. &uot;They need to come here and give their statements,&uot; Evans said.

Nunn said Tax and License Director Martha Jackson would send letters to water boards and authorities in an effort to determine which entities would be affected by the ordinance. Water boards and authorities may prove their status through their articles of incorporation.

The letters are expected to be sent on Wednesday.

In other matters the council:

Entered an executive session. The motion to enter the executive session was made by Councilwoman Nancy Sewell and seconded by James Durry. It passed 8 to 1 with Councilman B.L. Tucker opposing.

Prior to entering the executive session, Evans asked if a letter from the Alabama Ethics Commission would be discussed in the session. The letter, which is directed to attorney Charles Yow, attorney representing the Friends of Forrest, states that the ethics commission did not state it was permissible for the City of Selma to pick up the legal expense for Mayor James Perkins Jr. when he was sued in his individual capacity.

Bill Gamble, attorney representing the City of Selma in the Friends of Forrest lawsuit, was present for the executive session.

Declined to reduce holidays for city employees. According to Personnel Director Valeria Jones, a city employee working on a holiday would be given another day off instead of receiving overtime pay. &uot;You really aren’t saving,&uot; Jones said.