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Mayor: Information requests getting burdensome

Selma’s mayor filled about half a dozen requests for information, filing reports with the City Council on everything from crime statistics to city finances.

“It is my contention that much of the information being requested is already provided,” he said, as he passed out copies of the reports to the council.

Perkins said he waited until the city voted down a new rule for requesting information at a March meeting before filling the requests.

If the new change had been approved, Council members would have been forced to put information requests before the council for approval.

Perkins expressed his frustrations over the request to the Council.

He said he didn’t want the city to get bogged down in providing the information.

“These special reports are getting somewhat burdensome,” he said.

Perkins provided a report on the crime in Selma with Interim Police Chief Jimmy Martin. The Council originally requested the report to monitor noise ordinance complaints in the city.

According to the report, the city had 88 noise complaints in March.

Councilman Cecil Williamson asked for the number of citations issued.

Perkins agreed to provide the number in another report, but asked why.

“What are you going to do with this?” he asked. “Are ya’ll going to go out and enforce the law?”

Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw said she thought she might be able to approach repeat offenders in her ward and ask them to stop.

Councilwoman Dr. Geraldine Allen said she just wanted to be able to let her constituents know what’s going on.

“My use for this information is so we can say the police department is doing something,” she said.

Other reports included the city’s travel expenses last year, for the Administration Department, and a breakdown of the 2004 fiscal year budget, including expenses and income. Perkins also provided a monthly financial report, with reports on current expenses and income.

Councilman Reid Cain said he was happy with the effort being put forth by the mayor and his department heads.

Referring to the crime report, Cain told Martin, “This is a great report.”

Evans called for the fight over information to end.

“Let the healing begin,” he said. “Let’s go to the mayor and get information so we won’t embarrass our city.”

In other news, the city discussed the confusion over its decision to buy garbage trucks. The city passed two resolutions last night, to spend $492,000 on three trucks over a five-year period. Because of the wording of the contract there was some confusion over whether the city was buying or leasing the trucks.

City Clerk Lois Williams told the council the trucks were being bought through a lease program, basically a payment plan.

The first payment will be due in the next fiscal year, Perkins said.

The council passed both resolutions, on a 7-2 vote. The two dissenting votes came from Williamson and Cain. Cain voted against it, because he felt like he should have seen the contract earlier. Williamson opposed the resolution because of the confusion over the money spent and the interest rates, and the wording of both resolutions.

“I think the council should approve all money,” Williamson said.

In other business, the Council:

Passed a resolution allowing the city to apply for a $230,000 Fire Department Grant. The city has applied for the grant three years in a row, but only received it once. If the city is approved for the grant, it will require a $23,000 match, or 10 percent of the grant. “It will be a next fiscal year appropriation,” Mayor James Perkins Jr. said.

Agreed to pay $4,900 to resurface a city road. Perkins said the project was part of the road cave-ins that have been occurring lately.

Approved a liquor license for the Sunset Lounge in the 100 block of Washington Street, owned by Rodney Hardy. Six council members voted for the license, while three, Council members Jean Martin, Jannie Venter and Cecil Williamson voted against the license. The Council also voted against another liquor license, for the 49 Sports Bar, on Water Avenue, owed by James Moulette. Six council members voted against the license, while three, Council President George Evans and Council members Sam Randolph and Johnnie Leashore voted for the license.

Agreed to send a “Memorandum of Understanding” to the University of Alabama Birmingham to address health disparities in the Black Belt. “We are going to collaborate on a grant proposal to be submitted to the National Institute of Health,” Perkins said.

Approved a contract for Pyro Productions, which has provided the fireworks for Selma’s Annual Fourth of July celebration for three years running. The contract will cost the $12,400 for the fireworks show and a stage erected at Memorial Park. “It’s in the budget,” Perkins said.

Discussed revamping an old city law allowing residents to keep livestock in the city limits. According to Nunn, who was charged with researching the issue during the city’s last meeting, the law allows city residents to keep two goats, two cows and two horses. “We are going back to revise this ordinance,” City Attorney Jimmy Nunn said.

Discussed revisions to the city’s new trash pickup service. Nunn addressed problems the council brought to his attention during the last meeting and solidified the city’s policy on Social Security exemptions, specifies storage location and special assistance request, for residents physically unable to pull their carts to the curb. Nunn also said that apartment complexes will probably need to switch to dumpster service. “We’re in the process of going out and talking to those multi-unit owners,” General Services Director Henry Hicks said. The new 96-gallon carts will be placed starting on April 21. Service is expected to start in May. For more information, call the Selma General Services Department at 874-2165.

Discussed the Council’s travel budget. At the last meeting, the council approved a change in next year’s budget, requiring the city’s $40,000 travel budget to be split equally among the individual council members. During the last meeting, Leashore said council voted on the same issue earlier, and it didn’t pass. Evans disagreed at the time. Leashore said he’d gotten the minutes for the January 10 meeting, which showed the Council’s vote on the issue. “I was wrong and you were right,” Evans said. Randolph suggested that because of the January 10 vote, the March vote on the subject might be invalid, because it possibly violated the Council’s rules of procedure. The council asked Nunn to look into the matter. Leashore also sent Evans a letter, which was part of the Council agenda. Evans mentioned it, hinting that it carried strong complaints against him. Evans asked Leashore if he wanted to address the problems. Leashore didn’t respond and Evans dropped the matter. He didn’t reveal any specific contents of the letter.

Heard a report from the Administration Committee, detailing upcoming vacancies in the Selma City School Board. According to Allen, the city would have to replace two members on the board in May, when vacancies were expected. The Council asked Nunn to research the city’s requirements regarding the board’s racial makeup.

Discussed appropriating the last of the travel budget for an upcoming League of Municipalities meeting. Venter, Cain, Randolph and Leashore expressed a desire to attend the meeting. Evans suggested the remaining funds be used to pay for registrations fees ($325 each) and for the members to pay for their own travel and hotel arrangements. Crenshaw offered to provide some of her discretionary funding for the members and offered to help find other sources of money. Crenshaw said that some members of her ward have agreed to sponsor an upcoming trip in the summer. “We’re just going to find an alternative,” she said. Leashore said he felt like the city should pay for his travel expenses. “As an elected official I think it’s a requirement for the city to pay for my travel,” he said.

Received a Silver Sponsor plaque from the American Cancer Society, for the city’s participation in the Relay for Life. Sherri James, assistant to the mayor, co-chaired this year’s event. She reported that the event met its goal of raising $75,000 for the event.

Officer Jimmy Crowe got to publicly thank a man that helped him fight off a suspect a few months ago. Ralph Goldsby received an Award of Merit from the Selma Police Department. Goldsby assisted Crowe when a man attacked the officer at a local restaurant. Goldsby grabbed the suspect’s legs, while Crowe attempted to subdue him. “We’d just like to present you with this token of appreciation,” Interim Police Chief Jimmy Martin said.