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Council approves chief raises, Ward 7 pothole repairs

In approving its consent agenda during its meeting Tuesday, the Selma City Council took a number of steps in short order, despite the fact that some council members declined to vote in favor of all points.

In the consent agenda, which was passed despite reservations from Selma City Council members Jannie Thomas and Carl Bowline, the council approved the following:

• A contract for John Brock to serve as Range Master and provide firearm training for the Selma Police Department (SPD) for 90 days at a rate of $20 per hour for a maximum of 20 hours per week;

• Usage of the Vaughan-Smitherman Museum without fee for a board meeting hosted by Friends of the Vaughan-Smitherman Museum, as well as access to the building for cleaning ahead of the upcoming Pilgrimage, during which the museum will also be open;

• A 90-day contract at a rate of $3,200 per month for former SPD Chief Robert Green to serve as a consultant for the police department;

• An increase in pay for SPD Chief Kenta Fulford, bringing his salary to $80,000 annually, with retroactive pay back to January, and a raise for Selma Fire Department (SFD) Chief Chris Graham, bringing his salary to $70,000 annually;

• An $11,500 contract with Jerry Woods Construction for pothole repairs on Birch Street, Kingsley Drive and L.L. Anderson Avenue, with funds to be pulled from Thomas’ gas tax account;

• Usage of table, chairs and garbage cans for Old Depot Museum’s Annual Low Country Boil fundraiser;

• The placement of hand sanitizer dispensers in all city buildings.

Elsewhere in the meeting, Selma City Attorney Major Madison updated the council on the controversy surrounding a city-owned, 15-passenger van that was reportedly damaged months ago in a collision, but no police report was filed on the incident.

Madison stated that the van was in fact inside the City of Selma Public Works Department building and that he was told the van had been there for two years – he confirmed that the van sustained “minor” damage to the rear driver’s side.

Thomas disagreed, stating that the van had not been there for two years, but more likely about six months to a year.

“We’re hearing different stories,” Thomas said.

Selma City Councilman Sam Randolph likewise contested Madison’s report, which the attorney reiterated stemmed from information he received, insisting that Selma Mayor Darrio Melton had claimed that the vehicle was hit by a drunk driver on Broad Street while others are reporting that it was wrecked in Prattville.

“We’ve got to stop covering up stuff,” Randolph saod. “Whoever was driving the van needs to be held accountable for their actions. We, as the council, we’re in charge of vehicles and suff like that. That’s not part of day-to-day operations – if the mayor wants to cover up something like that, that’s just wrong.”

Randolph wondered aloud what else the mayor might be hiding from the council.

However, SPD Capt. Johnny King stated elsewhere in the meeting that, according to former SPD Chief Spencer Collier, the van was struck by a drunk driver while parked at an angle in front of city hall.

King insisted that the driver of the vehicle that struck the van was arrested for driving under the influence, indicating that some type of report has to exist.

Discussion of the van and the circumstances surrounding its damaged body cropped up multiple times during the meeting, but hard facts continue to be scarce.

Later in the meeting, SFD Chief Chris Graham appeared before the council to call for a 12 percent raise across the board for the department, noting that he is on the cusp of losing at least three officers to better paying departments.

“I didn’t ask for a raise to come to me…but I am asking that we do something about trying to get a raise to our firemen,” Graham said. “We’re going to continue to lose people in the department if we don’t do something about it.”

According to Graham, rough numbers indicate that giving a 12 percent raise to the current SFD roster would cost just over $138,700 – the increase would mean the starting pay for Selma firefighters would go from just over $28,600 to roughly $32,000 annually.

Graham said the department has around 23 vacancies and the cost of applying the pay raise to those positions would be an additional cost of more than $93,000.