City officials agree to lease trash trucks

Published 9:38 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2018

By Oniska Blevins

The Selma Times-Journal

After nearly an hour of “trash” talking Tuesday night, the Selma City Council voted to move forward to lease to own five new trash trucks.

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For months, the council has worked with the Capital Equipment Committee on getting trash trucks for the city.

A motion made by ward seven Councilwoman Jannie Thomas to lease to own five new trash trucks passed during Tuesday’s meeting. Councilman Michael Johnson seconded the motion.

The vote passed with five affirmative votes and four negative votes. Councilman Sam Randolph and Councilwomen Angela Benjamin and Miah Jackson voted no.

Council President Corey Bowie voted no as well.

Both Benjamin and Jackson said their “no” was because there was no written budget presented to them before the vote, and that budget information is vital to making a sound financial decision when making a purchase.

“There are some things that have gone on previously and there are some things that I’ve participated in that I don’t feel that have been totally fiscally responsible,” Jackson said. “I do not want to continue in that behavior. My vote will be no, not because we don’t need the trash trucks. We are in dire need of trash trucks.”

However, Thomas said she had to vote yes because several people in her ward have continuously called to complain about trash.

Selma Mayor Darrio Melton said this year the city has spent too much money repairing old trucks.

“This year alone we’ve spent up to $144,000 on repairs in six months on trucks alone with $50,000 pending, which would be $194,000,” Melton said.

A USDA loan applied for by the city would only cover the purchase of two trash trucks, and the rest will be allocated towards cruisers for the fire and police departments.

It is unclear at this time how the city will pay for the other three trucks, but Melton said he has made his recommendations to stop wasting money replacing old trucks and use that money to lease to purchase new trucks.

“As state law states, the council is in control of the finances of the city,” Melton said.

Melton said the budget he presented to the council last year included the purchase of the trucks using the same amount that is allocated towards the maintenance of the broken trucks. The council did not approve the budget.

The year- long discussion has ignited some serious tension, and Melton said there are other issues to be focusing on.

“This should not be a conversation that we’re taking over a whole year and continuing to talk about,” Melton said.

Now that progress was made to get the new trucks, Melton is happy to see the city will now have a chance at being cleaner.

“It impacts economic development because we’re bringing in people to invest in Selma and it does us well to keep our city clean,” Melton said.