City council rejects one-cent sales tax, approves appointment powers ordinance

Published 8:56 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Selma Mayor Darrio Melton and a dozen Selma Police Department officers appeared at Tuesday’s City Council meeting at city hall.

Melton made a final case for his 1 cent sales tax to the council, which would provide new equipment to the SPD.

“I know the 1-cent sales tax isn’t popular,” Melton said. “One of the most difficult jobs as mayor is talking to the husbands and wives of officers who were killed because officers didn’t have on the proper equipment. I urge the council to put their differences aside and pass the 1 cent sales tax. If not, come up with a plan.”

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The council rejected the 1-cent sales tax with six votes.

After the vote, Council President Corey Bowie and councilwoman Angela Benjamin replied to Melton. They will vote on the 2019 fiscal budget on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at city hall.

“I made a promise that we’ll have a balanced budget with internal and external control and it will meet the needs of Public Safety,” Bowie said.

Benjamin said the council found the funds for public safety.

Councilman Michael Johnson who’s on the Public Safety committee, was frustrated. “What took so long?”

The council passed an ordinance to remove appointment powers from Melton on the police chief, fire chief and tax collector to the council.

According to city attorney and Dallas County Probate Judge-elect Jimmy Nunn, the council can reappoint those three positions on a month to month basis.

“The police chief, fire chief and tax collector still report to the mayor,” Nunn said. “The council can’t fire them, but can reappoint them.”

Multiple attempts were made to reach Melton, who didn’t return calls to The Selma Times-Journal by press time.

The Council approved authorization for Melton and Finance Director Ronita Wade to sign the Selma Flood Risk Management Study Grant with a narrow 4-3 vote. Councilmen Sam Randolph and Carl Bowline weren’t present at the vote.

Melinda Williams, District Director for State Rep. Terri Sewell, said Sewell supports the $3 million grant, which is funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It won’t cost the city anything.

“The grant is highly recommended by Rep. Sewell,” Williams said. “She’s from Selma and stands here with you.”

Councilman John Leashore, who voted for the grant, said it’s important to look into the Riverbank.

“It needs to be done and needed to be done for a long time,” Leashore said. “Let’s get it done.”

The next city council meeting will be held Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. in city hall.