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City does away with TrustBuild

The city’s Community Outreach Department or TrustBuild is no more.

Mayor George Evans said the program instituted by the previous city administration has become part of the cost-cutting effort to reduce the 2009 fiscal year budget to $17 million.

In the adopted 2008 budget, Community Outreach cost the city $296,606.60, which included a director and staff, benefits, vehicle allowance travel training and conferences and special advertisement.

Actual expenditures through Sept. 30, 2008, showed the department spent $253,659.30. But in the proposed budget, all that drops by $232,654.86.

Here’s what happens, according to Evans: Some of the staff and other resources go into code enforcement for the city.

“The city needs code enforcement,” Evans said. “We know that.”

TrustBuild had begun as a community development-based strategy on crime to build trust in the community and concentrate on criminal hotspots.

But the department was criticized by many in Selma as a boondoogle to promote the previous administration.

One of the program’s most severe critics was Councilman Cecil Williamson, who consistently called it “Perkins’ re-election committee” — a reference to former Mayor James Perkins Jr., who organized the program.

Perkins held office for eight years but was defeated in his bid for a third term by Evans.

During the campaign, Evans had said he would dismantle TrustBuild.