Audit finds city has declining finances

Published 9:18 pm Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The city of Selma has seen declining revenue for the last few years, according to a Birmingham-based accountant.

Adam Waits addressed the city council about the city’s 2017 audit on Tuesday at city hall.

Waits said the city had a $1 million deficit from last year. He also stated the business tax increased to $243,000 and sales tax decreased to $430,000, making for a deficit of $673,000.

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“I’ve seen a decline in revenue and it’s been a constant trend,” Waits said. “I haven’t seen anything for this year, but I’m sure its continuing to decline.”

Waits said there were 50 adjustments to correct in the books, which is an unusual high number. He said anything is average between zero and five.  He said the audit fee was an estimate of $140,000.

Waits offered the city council members a few suggestions during his first time auditing the Queen City.

“For quick fixes, the number one thing is to go over the audit adjustment and create new streams of revenue,” Waits said.

Waits also thanked City Treasurer Ronita Wade for her assistance before she was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 26. Wade attended the council meeting.

“Ronita Wade put on her Superwoman cape and made it happen,” Council President Corey Bowie said.

Julian McPhillips, Wade’s attorney and the three suspended Selma Police Department (SPD) officers– Lt. Tory Neely, Sgt. Jeffrey Hardy and Sgt. Kendall Thomas– also addressed the council. He requested all four get their jobs back.

“I’d like to see Wade get reinstated a third time,” McPhillips said. “It’s a shame what has happened to her. No one told these officers what they did wrong. This kind of thing hurts the morale of the police department.”

The council approved a Resolution to extend the original agreement of the St. James Hotel to 60 days because of a title survey Hilton requested. Attorney Harry Gamble said the survey should be done by the end of the month.

The council also passed two ordinances for sale of the property and lease of Phoenix Park as a parking space.