We cannot afford not to have city services

Published 7:38 pm Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Selma citizens who woke up Wednesday morning and traveled to Selma City Hall to conduct business that taxpaying citizens normally do did not expect to find the doors locked. But that’s just what they found in what is a festering feud between the city council, Mayor Darrio Melton and city employees, who feel they have been neglected by all of the above. As expected, numerous people took to Facebook asking why the hub of the city was closed, thus stopping taxpayers from conducting city business at an important time of the month.

The answer, which actually raises more questions than anything, came around 8:45 a.m. when Melton released a letter stating employees from several departments were, for all intents and purposes, going on strike and would not return unless their demands for additional staffing, increased wages and better and more equipment were met. In his letter, Melton responded to the demands saying he has done his “statutory duties” by meeting with all departments, given the council all of the needs of the various departments and established a reserve for the City of Selma in his proposed budget – the same budget that was not approved by the council at a special called meeting Monday.

“Department heads even took the time to do video recordings both online and on television to explain the necessary needs for their departments,” Melton said in his letter.

In response, Selma City Councilwoman Miah Jackson is placing the blame at Melton’s feet recalling last year when nearly 70 city employees were laid off after the council rejected the mayor’s budget “with no attention paid to the manpower needs of the impacted departments.”

Jackson said the employees being absent from work is “extremely disheartening and disappointing,” adding that the city employees, citizens and Selma City Council are having to manage additional difficulties facilitated by this administration.

She’s right.

It is extremely disappointing the state that the city is in, and the fault lies with both Melton and the council, who continue to wage war with each other in a battle of egos that is costing the citizenry the city services they are paying for and deserve. And it’s hard to blame the employees, who are caught in the middle and are being used as pawns by both sides who are trying to get their way.

Regardless of who is at fault this is something that has to be done, and the mayor and council need to put their egos aside and fix it. We as a city cannot afford to not have the city services we are paying for grind to a halt while a part-time council, and what seems to be a part-time mayor, duke it out.  Enough is enough. Fix it. And we’ll even say “pretty please” if that helps.