Council discusses audit

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 16, 2004

City Coucil member Glenn Sexton requested a second city audit at yesterday’s regular council meeting.

Sexton charged that the accountant for the audit had some inconsistencies with the audit compared to a draft presented to the city council.

“Why would he give a draft if he was going to make that many changes,” he said.

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By Sexton’s count, the audit and the draft contained 50 differences, many of them drastic.

The tax revenue line item, for example, was half on the actual audit compared to the draft.

“It’s alarming to know he made that many changes,” Sexton said. “I urge we get a second opinon.”

The rest of the council expressed surprise at the changes.

“He (Bill Long) said it was set in stone,” Council Member Nancy Sewell said of the draft.

Instead of getting a second opinion, however, the council decided to bring Long before the council to answer questions regarding the discrepancies.

“I really think he needs to be able to be accountable for (the audit),” Council President George Evans said.

Sewell also thanked Sexton for his dedication in finding the changes.

“I do commend those who take time and look at the figures,” she said.

In a special meeting earlier in the day, the Council certified the ballot results, making Jean Martin and Jannie Venter the official Council Members-Elect for Wards 3 and 8 respectively.

According to the official count, Martin won the runoff election against Felicia Owens “Dixon” 418 to 237.

Jannie Venter beat incumbent James Durry, 386 to 292.

Evans congratulated the winners and thanked City Clerk Lois Williams for running the election as well as she did.

“I really think everything ran smoothly,” Evans said.

In other news the council:

Discussed, briefly, the proposed landfill off Highway 80W. According to Evans, the city is losing $400,000 yearly on garbage collection.

While the new landfill wouldn’t stop the losses, it would close the landfill in Bennie Ruth Crenshaw’s ward, Ward 7.

Still, Selma must do something about the loss of funds, according to Evans.

“We’re going to have to come up with some way to recoup those losses,” he said.

Heard from Wanda Bush, owner of Warren’s Tavern, about the proposed smoking ordinance.

Bush explained to the council that she felt the ordinance, which prevents smoking in bars and restaurants among other businesses, would close her business.

“I have a lot of customers that are really irate about this,” she said.

Crenshaw said she felt the ordinance went too far.

“Instead of making the rules for (businesses),” she said. “They need to be part of the process.

Brenda Tuck, of the American Cancer Society, spoke in support of the ordinance.

“If this is something that would be detrimental to the economy,” she said. “I wouldn’t be for it personally.”

Approved the reappointment of the standing Industrial Board.

This board is responsible for assigning tax abatements for property taxes to businesses and industries in the Selma city limits.

Evans is a member of the board. While the appointments were routine, the appointments were a sore point for Crenshaw. She said she didn’t support the board because she was never sure of the board’s authority or purpose.

“I think it is important to know what it’s about,” she said.

Heard from Mayor James Perkins who reported several things. Among them were property tax eliminations, for individuals who couldn’t be made to pay due to bankruptcy or other reasons.

While the council approved the eliminations, the money can still be collected through legal methods, by approval of the council.

Martha Jackson, Selma’s Director of Tax and Licenses, said this year’s sum of uncollected property tax – $56,058.21 – was higher than last year’s because of several bankruptcy’s.

“The big difference this year,” she said, “is American Candy Company’s bankruptcy.”

Perkins also reported that city government would close at 3:30 p.m. yesterday due to Hurricane Ivan.

Perkins said they would reopen as soon as possible. Perkins also presented proclaimations declaring Selma a local disaster area and named Bret Howard, of the Dallas County EMA, the city’s EOC officer.

Both proclaimations allow the city to apply for federal disaster aid after the hurricane passes.

“We’ll hope for the best and pray for the best,” Pekins said.