City works to prepare budget for upcoming fiscal year

Published 5:12 pm Saturday, August 12, 2017

The city of Selma should be considering a budget for the upcoming fiscal year as soon as its next meeting.

Councilman Johnny Leashore asked Mayor Darrio Melton Tuesday night when the city council would have a budget to discuss.

Melton said his office is still working on the budget but would have something in the “next couple of weeks.”

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Leashore followed up and asked if something could be ready by the council’s next meeting on Aug. 22.

City treasurer Ronita Wade said she thought that would be possible.

“Let’s put pressure on the treasurer,” Melton said after Wade said she would work to have the budget later this month.

“To give us time to dissect. I know there will be some bumps we have to travel in the budgetary process,” Leashore said. “Some people will like it, and some won’t. What we have to do is come to an understanding about what’s best for our city.”

The city has been operating off a roughly $17 million budget for several years.

Wade has stressed the need for new revenue throughout the year.

The council has taken some steps by cracking down on the entertainment tax for events and enforcing vendor ordinances.

However, the easiest way to generate substantial revenue would be a sales tax increase, which Wade has recommended to the council.

The council hasn’t been warm on that idea and several, including Leashore, have said they won’t support a sales tax increase, which would only need a majority vote of the council to go into effect.

A property tax increase would have to go to a vote of the people, which would take months and isn’t guaranteed to pass.

Melton said without more revenue the budget won’t be much to look at.

“What we are looking at is if the council decides to not find other revenue generating avenues … the budget that we will be bringing is a budget that wouldn’t be too much to look over.”

Leashore said he thought citizens would support a property tax increase if earmarked for public safety and public works.

“What is killing us now is we need new monies. If you are going to have quality services, you are going to have to pay for them,” Leashore said.