Council considering half-cent sales tax increase to support public safety

Published 9:59 pm Thursday, January 10, 2013

After some Selma City Council members brought concern to the mayor about the current pay-rate for Selma Police Department officers and other public safety officials such as firemen, Selma Mayor George Evans has began creation of a proposal for an additional half-cent sales tax in the city.

In a November public safety committee meeting, Ward 5 councilman Samuel Randolph led the discussion on why police officers in Selma need a pay raise to compete with salaries in surrounding areas.

On Tuesday, Evans was able to finally present a first-draft proposal for a sales tax that would not only increase pay for officers, but for every city of Selma employee.

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“We have roughly 70 percent of our employees that are making less than $30,000 [annually,]” Evans said. “So the intent is to find a way to raise the bar to give them more money as well as to also raise the bar in terms of our police officers and find a way to meet that gap.”

In the first-draft proposal, Evans said there would be an end-of-year bonus for all employees based on the revenue generated by the sales tax.

Full time employees would get from $1,000 to $1,200 end-of-year bonus and part-time employees would receive a check for $600.

“We have 115 people who work for the city that actually make under $20,000,” Evans said.

Approximately 94 employees earn $20,000 to $30,000 annually and 21 employees make between $40,000 and $50,000. Two employees make more than $50,000.

Council member did not take a vote on the proposal, but instead plan to submit their input on the proposal to Evans in the coming days.

“I think the employees do need a raise but what comes to mind is the income of the average family in Selma, which is $10,000,” Ward 6 Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw said. “My thing is that the half cent sales tax may prove itself to be a burden to those in Selma. It shows right now that our sales are relatively down and it shows people are not shopping; they don’t have any money so I just want that to be part of the equation.”

Evans said he wanted the proposal to be perfect before it comes to a vote.

“I’m pleased with the proposal but there are still some things that I know are not perfect and I know there are some things that can be tweaked,” Evans said. “I don’t have all the answers so I want for the council to work together and see what is best for the community and for the workforce.”