Public safety, finances lead Ward 8 meeting

Published 9:29 pm Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Public safety was the theme for the Ward 8 meeting on Wednesday at Sophia P. Kingston School.

Selma mayor Darrio Melton praised the leadership of City Councilman Michael Johnson, who presides over Ward 8.  Johnson is the chairman for public safety, which includes the fire department and police department.

“You have one of the best councilmen in the city,” Melton said. “He makes tough decisions all the time. I’m grateful he’s willing to do that.”

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Melton discussed his proposed $22 million budget, public safety concerns and city’s ongoing trash issues to the residents.

“This didn’t happen overnight,” Melton said. “Some people have selective amnesia. When we came into office, there was a trash issue.”

Johnson admits the Queen City has problems, but he vows to help find solutions.

“We’ve got issues we’re trying to take care of,” Johnson said. “The Mayor and I won’t run from anything. We’ll address it.”

Johnson hopes the City Council and Melton can produce a new budget. The fiscal year ends on Sept. 30 and the 2018-2019 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

“We’re working on a budget,” Johnson said. “We need funding. The cost of living has gone up. The revenue isn’t as strong as it used to be. People don’t understand the revenues have to come up.”

Melton touted the improvements in Selma Police Department since taking office and hiring Spencer Collier as police chief. Fifteen new police cars and rifle-plated vests are among the items in his proposed budget.

“When I got here, Selma Police Department went from 38 to 57 officers,” Melton said. “Collier was brought in and has done a great job. We are making strides when it comes to public safety. We’re looking at nine or 10 potential police officers, but 60 officers aren’t enough. We need 70.”

Melton also expressed needs for the Fire Department, including new uniforms and air tanks.

Johnson expressed his desire to help fix the city.

“Whatever it takes to protect Selma, I’ll do,” Johnson said. “Ward 8 is my home.”