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Evans meets with department heads, employees first few days in office

Selma Mayor George Evans didn’t waste time starting on the job.

On Monday, he began settling into his new office on the first floor of City Hall. He met with city department heads at 7:30 a.m. that day to get an overview of city operations.

“We talked about personnel and budgetary issues and their plans for the upcoming year,” he said. “We have to do things different — better.”

On Tuesday, various city employees came in and out of Evans’ office, which is bare-bones. He has yet to move any personal things into his office. He does not have a city-issued computer yet. But the work continued.

Evans said he knows there will have to be cuts in terms of people to get the budget in line, but that will take several months.

“It’ll take us between now and the end of the year to get everything in place,” he said.

The city now operates under the same budget it had adopted last year. That budget, according to a booklet published for the fiscal 2007-08 year showed revenue at $17,701,385; expenditures at $17,677,234.06, leaving $24,150.96 as a balance.

Yet, the full picture of the city’s financial standing is unclear, said Cecil Williamson, president pro-tem of the city council.

“We really do not know because I don’t think it takes into account the $260,000 we’re down for the year in sales tax,” Williamson said. “We’ve probably spent more of our cash reserves, too.”

Former Mayor James Perkins Jr. hired a Birmingham-based accounting firm to conduct an audit before he left office. But accountants likely will not complete the audit before the end of the year.

Evans said he didn’t receive much information about city issues, including the budget, during the transition between his election and the administration of Perkins — a primary reason for the intensive meetings with all the department heads.

He met with the full staff on Wednesday to have city employees share their concerns and to get feedback on where the city is at the present and to establish a working relationship with his new staff.

Evans expects to meet each month with each department head and his or her staff.

“I need feedback on how we can do a better job; how we can have more fun in doing our work; how people can have a desire to come to work.”

Evans said the new administration wouldn’t solve all the issues in a few months.

“I’m asking the employees and citizens to be patient and work with me. We’re going to get there,” he said. “This year won’t be easy.”