Council OKs sales tax holiday

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 26, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Back-to-School shopping will be a little easier on local parents’ wallets this year.

The Selma City Council unanimously approved a sales tax holiday during its regular meeting Monday at city hall.

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The motion was made by Councilwoman Jean Martin to approve the holiday, set Aug. 4.

More than 80 other municipalities and counties throughout Alabama, as well as the state, have approved similar sales tax holidays. The sales tax break covers items such as school clothing, books and supplies.

In an unrelated matter, Mayor James Perkins Jr. reported that the city’s TRUSTBuild program, started to help reduce blight and crime, is at about 55 percent completion of Phase I.

“I really appreciate the council’s concurrence in funding this program,” he said.

With a goal of providing a safe and secure community to all its citizens, the TRUSTBuild program started with a sweep of neighborhoods to identify problem areas.

Bridget Mills, who helped coordinate the effort, said teams – made up of a Selma police office along with a city hall worker – had identified 2,347 violations after patrolling all the city streets.

“These represented 26 categories” of violations, Mills said, including abandoned vehicles, standing water, litter, dilapidated houses and overgrown lots.

Once the violations were identified, city workers were sent in to correct problems or notify homeowners and residents of violations.

“We have completed more than 1,000 of the violations, with a little more than 1,000 still in progress,” Mills said.

Those items included:

15 pot holes: 100 percent completed

58 other road hazards: 80 percent complete

112 drains (overgrown, damaged or missing drain covers): 108 or 96 percent complete

173 sidewalks/curbs: 102 or 60 percent complete

52 street signs (damaged or missing): 100 percent completion

505 overgrown lots: 97 totally completed

373 abandoned cars: All 373 have been repaired or cited and removed.

“The fire department and police department did an outstanding job,” Mills said.

Some dilapidated homes have been demolished as well, she said.

Phase II of the TRUSTBuild program will include a Community Outreach, involving police officers, city representatives and members of the community to get out in the neighborhoods.

“This is not a short term solution,” Perkins said. “It’s really and truly designed to meet the people where they are.”

Councilwoman Jannie Venter said she has noticed the impact of the program.

“You drive all over the city of Selma and you can see the difference,” she said.

In other business, the council:

Approved a $29,480.96 expenditure for a BellSouth phone system for the city’s police department.

Perkins said the current console requires major repairs. “We need to go ahead and replace it.”

When questioned about the need to bid the item by Councilman Cecil Williamson, City Attorney Jimmy Nunn said that counties and municipalities are not required to bid an item if it is awarded to a vendor with whom the state already has a contract.

Appointed three members to the Selma City School Board: Coley Chestnut, Barbara Strapp Hiouas and David Hagood.

Committee chairwoman Dr. Geraldine Allen said she “followed the same process and procedures” used last time appointments were made. The council received nine interested applicants for the three positions open.

Approved a request from Carolyn Bates of the Selma Disabilities Advocacy Program to have a Special Needs Day in Selma, tentatively set for April 21, 2007.