Budget planning headlines city council meeting

Published 9:43 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Selma’s financial budget for 2019 dominated the City Council meeting on Tuesday at City Hall.

The 2018 fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.  The City Council and city treasurer Ronita Wade both want a meeting with Mayor Darrio Melton to discuss the upcoming year, which starts on Oct. 1.

Wade said she’s had discussions with the Chief of Staff, but not Melton on the budget.

Three days before last year’s budget year ended, Wade was fired after Melton accused her of being insubordinate and trying to undermine him during a Sept. 19 budget hearing. She remained on leave until Dec. 22 when Melton sent a certified letter of termination to her attorney, Julian McPhillips. She was reinstated as the treasurer on Feb. 6 by the City Council.

“We have to look at last year’s budget to see what’s needed for this year’s budget,” Wade said. “We have a cash flow problem.”

Selma has a credit rating of 613.73 from 2017, according to the website Wallethub. Any rating between 600 and 649 is considered poor, according to the website. This year’s numbers weren’t available.

“We can’t continue to keep having our credit rating go down,” council president Corey Bowie said. “We don’t need to make the same mistake as we did last year.”

The City Council and Wade both seek a meeting with Melton to start planning the budget in the near future.

Council members present were Bowie, Ward 2 Councilwoman Susan Youngblood, Ward 4 Councilwoman Angela Benjamin, Ward 1 Councilman Carl Bowline, Ward 6 Councilman Johnnie M. Leashore, Ward 3 Councilwoman Miah Jackson, Ward 5 Councilman Sam Randolph and Ward 7 Councilwoman Jannie Thomas. Ward 8 Councilman Michael Johnson wasn’t present.

Jackson brought up the policy and procedural manuals, especially about the individual departments. Randolph pointed out that the ordinance prohibits city officials from driving company vehicles over five miles from city limits.

The Council approved to adopt an internal manual.

Weed abatement, part of the city’s code ordinance, was also part of the discussion. Jackson said Melton told her “there’s no weed abatement.”

Bowline said Melton contacted him last night and they talked about weed abatement, and said tall grass is consistently growing in the city limits.

“The Mayor said ‘it can’t be done consistently because they didn’t have the personnel,’” Bowline said.

Jackson’s response: “It hasn’t been done since my administration and you can quote me on that.”

Benjamin requested the Council get it in writing from the Mayor’s office.

The next Selma City Council meeting will be July 24 at 5 p.m. at City Hall.