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Committee mulls hazard pay for essential workers

The Selma City Council’s Public Safety Committee met Monday to discuss, among other things, extending hazard pay to the city’s first responders throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Selma Police Department (SPD) Chief Kenta Fulford requested that the council consider extending a $1.75 per-hour raise to the city’s police force for the next three months, which would cost $37,800 for police officers and $43,680 for support staff, such as jailers and others.

Elsewhere in the meeting, Selma Fire Department (SFD) Chief Chris Graham requested that the council consider a five-percent pay increase for the fire department through the end of the crisis.

According to Selma City Attorney Major Madison, however, the city might be better served to provide the pay increase under a different name – Madison stated that representatives from the Alabama League of Municipalities advised that the extension of hazard pay “creates other issues and ramifications” as it relates to permanent pay, fringe benefits and pensions.

Madison noted that the additional pay could still be doled out to first responders, but it would be considered a one-time, temporary raise or supplemental pay.

Hazard pay wasn’t the only thing on leaders’ minds, however – Fulford opened the meeting by discussing the rash of incidents reported at the snack stand at 820 First Street, including multiple reports of theft of property, suspicious persons, civil issues, robbery and more, as well as the business’s refusal to adhere to health restrictions.

A resident of first avenue claimed that scores of people have populated the store in recent weeks, all of them unmasked and ignoring social distancing guidelines.

“My whole concern is the virus,” the resident stated.
“That’s the main concern. That should be everyone’s concern.”

Fulford stated that citations are being handed out to such businesses and that residents should contact the SPD with reports of oversized gatherings.

Fuflord also alerted the committee to the need for another animal control vehicle, at a cost of $34,000, after a previous vehicle was totaled, as well as the need for a transfer switch on the department’s generator, which will cost between $3,500 and $4,000.

Graham reported that the SFD is in need of $8,500 for shower repairs at Station 3 and roughly $10,000 for roofing repairs at Station 4.