Mayor, City Council discuss solving the city’s financial crisis

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Selma Mayor Darrio Melton and the City Council had a discussion about solving the city’s issues on Tuesday at City Hall.

Melton informed the council that $18,000 will be needed to make payroll this week for city employees who get paid monthly.  Council President Corey Bowie said it will take $400,000 to make the bi-monthly payroll ending the week of Nov. 2.

Last week’s payroll was met on Oct. 19 with funds used from “another account.” Bowie said those funds came from Brown YMCA and a General Fund. The first option was a line of credit, but the request was denied.

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“We can’t continue to borrow and borrow, we need to come up with something else,” Melton said. “We had to show the bank how we were going to pay the money back.”

Bowie and Melton both said that a $750,000 sales tax revenue is expected to come in Wednesday, which would solve some of the issues.

But the Nov. 5 layoff of 68 city employees is currently still scheduled to happen and Melton warned the council more layoffs could be coming.

“The layoffs will go deeper if we don’t pay our bills,” Melton said. “Between $1.4 and $1.8 million go out every month for payroll and expenditures, but we only have $800,000 coming in.”

For several months, Melton said city bills took a backseat to payroll.

“Bills have been held since April to make payroll,” Melton said.

Councilwoman Jannie Thomas suggested finding a way to avoid layoffs with the holidays approaching, but Melton said it may not be avoided.

“When there’s no funding, you have to lay them off,” Melton said. “We’ll have issues with the Department of Labor if people are working without being paid.”

“We’ll do everything we can to keep the workers from being laid off, but if it happens, we move on,” Bowie said.

Councilwoman Angela Benjamin suggested Melton bring back city Treasurer Ronita Wade off Administrative leave. Wade was placed on leave last month and currently under investigation for alleged criminal misconduct allegations. Melton urged Benjamin to call the office of Attorney General Steve Marshall.

Melton, Bowie and Benjamin will meet Wednesday for an extensive discussion of the city’s financial woes. The council plans to have a finance meeting on Halloween.

The other news from the meeting was the council passing a resolution for the sale of the St. James Hotel. The vote will take place at the Nov. 13 city council meeting. Selma attorney Harry Gamble said the lenders are in place.

“It’s not a done deal until it’s a done deal,” Gamble said.