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Council seeks to protect tax fund

A measure to ensure one-time raises for employees is causing the Selma City Council to look in new places to pay its bills. 

The measure, proposed by Selma City Councilman Cecil Williamson and passed on March 25, set a baseline amount to remain in the half-cent sales tax fund. With its passage, the measure prevents any withdrawals from the half-cent sales tax that would decrease it below $450,000. The half-cent fund is often used to pay for miscellaneous expenses.

Williamson said the measure was to ensure employees are given a one-time raise in December.

“We tend to use this fund for things other than what it was intended,” Williamson said during a March city council meeting.

But on Tuesday, the council will vote on a measure that gets creative with bill payment.

The council will withdraw $60,000 from its Summer Youth Employment Program to pay for tax software.

Council president Corey Bowie said the move shouldn’t cause a problem, as the council plans to replace the withdrawal with half-cent money, after it reaches the $450,000 threshold.

“We are still going to have the Summer Youth Employment Program,” Bowie said. “The program is valuable and builds character and responsibility.”

He said the city has until June to refund the summer employment fund and the city generates about $100,000 in half-cent sales tax revenue each month.

The $60,000 from the summer employment fund will be the second and final payment on a program city employees use to pay handles various forms of taxes. The city paid $60,000 initially, in April 2013, from a traffic enforcement fund for the software.

Since then, Bowie said tax collection rates have improved.

The maneuver to pay for the software is expected to come up during Tuesday’s council meeting on the consent agenda.