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Council votes to continue last year’s budget

The city of Selma will operate the remainder of the fiscal year on the 2016-2017 budget with amendments after a vote Friday afternoon by the Selma City Council.

The city was operating without a budget as of Feb. 28, which is when an extension of the 2016-2017 budget voted on by the council expired.

The council met Friday in a special called meeting after Mayor Darrio Melton told them earlier this week during a budget hearing the city was operating without a budget.

The vote passed with seven affirmative votes, one negative and one abstention. Councilman Johnny Leashore voted no, and Councilwoman Susan Youngblood passed on voting.

Bowie’s argument for continuing to operate under the 2016-2017 budget was that the fiscal year is already around halfway completed. He said by the time they get a new budget in place, it will already be time to work on the budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

A motion made by Leashore to pass Melton’s proposed budget failed during the special called meeting. Councilman Michael Johnson seconded the motion but withdrew his second after it failed. The motion received 7 negative votes and two affirmative votes from Leashore and Johnson.

“I have yet to hear one thing that any council person did not support, did not want. I have heard not one line item where there was a dispute,” Leashore said.

“With that being said, the budget hearing process, as far as I’m concerned, has run its course.”

Bowie said council members are not aware of how much money has been spent this fiscal year so far, but it should be around 45-50 percent of the budget. He said he would have to get those numbers from City Treasurer Ronita Wade.

Bowie said the council will make amendments to the budget as needed for the rest of this fiscal year to fit the city’s needs.

“I’m very happy that we can go ahead and continue to move forward with the best interest of serving the citizens and providing quality services for the citizens,” Bowie said after the meeting. “We have a working document now that we can go by.”

Bowie said the back-and-forth situation between Wade and Melton was one of the dynamics that kept delaying the budget process. Melton was also waiting on a new pay plan from Auburn University.

“There were some dynamics in place that weren’t in place since I’ve been up here,” Bowie said. “The treasurer wasn’t here to help facilitate the process, so that was one of the dynamics that derailed the process.”

Bowie said he hopes to begin work on the 2018-2019 budget in June.

“We have to go ahead and start early and start doing our assessments, prioritize our spending and move forward,” Bowie said.

The 2016-2017 budget was just over $17 million. The proposed 2017-2018 budget from Melton was for $17.9 million.