Council approves public safety raises Oct. 1 but don’t say how much

Published 11:23 pm Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Selma City Council voted to give public safety employees a raise starting Oct. 1, but they didn’t outline how much they would be.

The vote was taken at a special called meeting Thursday following a week of patrol officers calling in sick for work.

The resolution passed unanimously but details still have to be worked out. Officers sent a letter to Mayor George Evans and the council last Tuesday demanding a meeting with them and immediate raises.

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Last Thursday and for three consecutive days, all officers on the morning and evening patrol shifts called in sick for work. The patrols were handled by departmental supervisors, detectives, part-time employees and retirees.

Police Chief John Brock said most officers were back to work Thursday but that a few continue to call in.

Councilman Cecil Williamson made the motion to guarantee the raises about 1 hour and 20 minutes into the council meeting.

“I love we go on record to approve a pay raise for the police department effective Oct. 1,” Williamson said, amending that to include all public safety employees. “All they asked us to do was to give them something in writing that we were going to give them a raise. The least we can do is to go on record saying we will give them a raise.”

Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw said she would understand if officers were skeptical but that she hoped the vote would send a message to the department.

“They have taken a drastic step to be heard. They already don’t believe it … We can understand why,” Crenshaw said.

The police and all other city departments haven’t had a permanent pay raise since 2007. Employees have received bonuses around the holidays the past three years of up to $1,600 for full-time with three years of service with the city.

Selma Mayor George Evans said all city employees would receive a raise in next year’s budget. The council voted in favor of those raises but didn’t say when those increases would start outside public safety.

Crenshaw, who isn’t seeking reelection, didn’t support the measure, saying the new council should decide the details of other departmental raises.

City Treasurer Ronita Wade has been working the past few months with Brock and Fire Chief Toney Stephens to come up with step raises for those departments based off what communities similar to Selma pay.

The city is also working with a company out of Auburn on a pay plan for all departments with pay scales and job descriptions.

Councilman B.L. Tucker asked Wade if it would be possible to pay the one-time bonuses next week.

“I think what we need to do is to give the bonuses out Monday,” Tucker said.

Wade said from a cash flow standpoint that wouldn’t be possible with one month left in the fiscal year.

“I don’t think we have stressed enough that we have a cash flow issue. That’s important,” Wade said. “From the financial prospective, that would not be a wise decision for the city of Selma.”