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Mayor sees progress in 1 year

Mayor George Evans has seen some progress during this first year of his administration.

When Evans took office in Nov. 4, 2008, the city had a budget shortfall of $1.1 million; violent crime had increased; and no code enforcement office existed.

Evans and the Selma City Council took a hard stance on the budget to balance it. Most council members took a 12.5 percent pay cut, just as did Evans and all city employees with the exception of the firefighters and police.

Evans recommended a hiring freeze and spending freeze. The council agreed.

The result: The city’s budget is balanced and those pay cuts are restored.

Evans talked about those challenges and successes in his State of the City message Monday at the Selma Convention Center.

“I wanted this presentation to show you how far we have come this year, and keep in mind how far we have to go in this process,” he said.

Among the victories this year the voters passed a $12 million bond issue that freed up money for vehicle and equipment purchases, projects to repair building and to undertake some infrastructure projects.

“The bond issue made a tremendous difference to our finances,” Evans said.

The mayor focused on the Riverfront Park, which spent 15 years on paper before the groundbreaking last year. Now it’s a viable project, Evans said.

“In my opinion this is the one piece that is the gold mine for our city,” he said.

Full development of the project would see walking trails, a playground, an amphitheater, a water fountain and other attractions.

Additionally, the Selma Interpretative Center at the corner of Water Avenue and Broad Street is well under way. Nearly $1 million has gone toward repairing the building’s roof and now the repairs to the first floor.

The city can accomplish more, for example, special programs for special children and an annual city day to recognize excellence in Selma.

But the projects take working together, Evans said.

“The biggest problem we have in Selma is we’ve got to learn to work together,” he said.