Budget woes continue for the city

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 15, 2007

To the Editor:

Sales tax revenues for the city’s General Fund continue to decline at an alarming rate.

For the first four months of this fiscal year, sales tax receipts are down $248,800 compared to the same period last year.

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At nine cents tax on the dollar, that means business revenue is down about $2,235,000 in Selma compared to the same period last fiscal year.

This is a serious matter because sales tax revenues are projected to provide 63 percent of the city’s General Fund Budget of $17,775,000.

The city’s Lodging Tax is also down $29,841 this fiscal year compared to the last. This indicates that fewer people are visiting our city and staying in our motels.

Despite this deficit, the City Council continues to spend money from a non-existent Lodging Tax unappropriated surplus.

We took office in October 2004, after four years of deficit spending during Mayor Perkins’ first term.

Our first year in office, we ended the year with a surplus. I think the year ended Sept. 30, 2006 will also show a surplus.

After two years of fiscal soundness, I am disappointed that we appear headed for a massive General Fund deficit this year if we spend the total amount budgeted for the year.

It seems to me that the majority of the members of the City Council either do not care about the deficit spending and the decrease in sales tax and lodging revenues or they do not want to talk about it. They seem to have a plantation mentality about the impending city budget woes.

Each time I ask the Council to please look at the decreased revenues and the excess spending, the response of some of my colleagues is, in effect, that the Massa (Mayor Perkins) will take care of us, will tell us what we need to know, and will let us know if we need to do anything.

That is not the Mayor’s responsibility. No one is to blame except the City Council if the city General Fund goes bankrupt this year. Instead of whistling “Dixie” or singing “We Shall Overcome,” all of us on the City Council need to open our eyes and see the approaching iceberg which could sink the good ship Selma.

Cecil Williamson

Ward I Councilman