Selma City Council approves one-time raises, excludes public safety

Published 10:37 pm Wednesday, March 14, 2018

All employees with the city of Selma, with the exception of police officers and fire fighters, should have a little extra money in their wallets Friday after the Selma City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a one-time pay raise.

The raises, which will cost the city $233,981, range from $200 to $1,600.

City Treasurer Ronita Wade told council members Tuesday night she had done research on available funding. Wade said there was currently a $1.5 million cash balance in the city’s general fund. Wade said after meeting obligations, there would be an estimated $500,000 available to fund the raises.

Email newsletter signup

“Based on the information that I have provided, if we don’t have a major catastrophe in the city that requires our funds, and there is no excess spending outside of what we already have anticipated, we should be able to do this,” Wade said Tuesday.

Members of the council went back and forth discussing the pros and cons of the raises.

Councilwoman Miah Jackson said paying the raises could put the city at a disadvantage if an emergency were to come up.

“Years of doing these type of things, years of spending when we should have been putting in reserve or saving has gotten us in a position where we can’t fix our trucks and we can’t give the employees the raises they’re due,” she said.

Councilwoman Angela Benjamin said the half-cent sales tax the city passed several years ago was sold to people as a way to pay for one-time raises.

“Here we have this half-cent sales tax and we’re debating on things about it that were not a part of it but became a part of it. It didn’t start out like that. It started out with public safety, capital equipment and these one-time raises,” Benjamin said.

Councilman Sam Randolph said the reasoning behind not including public safety employees is because they received a 10 percent raise in 2016.

After much debate between council members, Randolph made a motion to give the raises. The motion was seconded by Benjamin. Before the vote was taken, Randolph amended his motion to have the raises paid by Friday.

“We’ve got the money, I don’t want to wait until whenever and find out we don’t have the money,” Randolph said.

The motion passed with four affirmative votes and three negative votes. Council President Corey Bowie, Benjamin, Randolph and Jannie Thomas voted in favor of the raises. Carl Bowline, Susan Youngblood and Miah Jackson voted against it.

“I’m worried about the long-term security of their jobs, as well as the city, and with that being said, I have to vote no,” Bowline said.

Council members Johnny Leashore and Michael Johnson were not at the meeting.

One concern Youngblood had was how the raises were structured. According to documents, employees with less than one year will receive $200, employees with less than three years will receive $800 and employees with more than three years with the city will receive $1,600.

Youngblood said it isn’t fair for someone who has worked for the city for more than a decade to get the same amount as someone who has worked there for three years and a day.

“These figures need to be amended. There needs to be a formula that is more rewarding based on years of service and based on work,” Youngblood said.

The raises are typically given in November around Thanksgiving, but due to Wade’s administrative leave and the city not having a new budget in place, the raises were not given then.

After the vote was taken, Randolph asked City Clerk Ivy Harrison to read back his motion to him.

“A motion was made by Councilman Randolph and seconded by Councilwoman Angela Benjamin to approve the one-time raise for the city employees with the exception of public safety,” Harrison read aloud. Randolph’s original motion did not specify the raises were not intended for public safety employees as well. His amended motion made no mention of public safety employees either.

Melton said the money that will be used to pay the raises is money that has built up due not spending as much. He also said it was unfair not to include public safety employees.