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Hazard pay, new judge approved

The Selma City Council met Tuesday for its regularly scheduled meeting, held over the web due to the ongoing public health emergency, and approved Selma attorney Brandon Wooten as the city’s newest Municipal Court Judge.

“Mr. Wooten was the ideal fit,” said Selma City Councilman Corey Bowie later. “He had a forward-thinking vision for how we can move the municipal court in the right direction.”

Bowie said three candidates were interviewed and Wooten was chosen based on the rating he received and his vision for the court.

Elsewhere in the meeting, the council approved a $1.75 per hour pay bump for the Selma Police Department (SPD) and Selma Fire Department (SFD) for one month to serve as hazard pay for their ongoing service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a month, the council will revisit the issue and reauthorize the pay if needed.

Along with hazard pay for the city’s first responders, Selma City Councilmen John Leashore and Michael Johnson renewed calls for the city’s Public Works Department employees to receive hazard pay.

The proposition has met with resistance before and Tuesday’s meeting was no different, with Selma City Councilwoman Angela Benjamin asking how public works employees fit into the hazard pay equation.

In the end, it was decided that Leashore would look into the matter further at an upcoming Public Works and General Services Committee meeting.

The council also approved a payment of nearly $5,900 for truck repairs for the Public Works Department, more than $8,000 for a landfill dump truck repairs and more than $7,700 for truck repairs for the SPD.

Bowie said the council is working to draft a vehicle maintenance plan for each department, leading Selma City Councilman Sam Randolph to advise that the council compare the cost of having the vehicles repaired versus hiring a city mechanic.

The council also approved its annual $7,500 apportionment to Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson’s drug task force, which assists local law enforcement agencies in tackling crime.

Bowie said the task force, along with a variety of other agencies, were out in force Tuesday night in response to a rash of shootings in the area.

The council also approved the following items in its consent agenda:

• Waiving the late penalty on taxes for small businesses whose average sales are less than $62,500 per year;

• The temporary closure of the service road on North Broad Street;

• A payment of $3,700 for Tri-County Emergency work in Ward 2;

• Giving permission for the council president to sign contracts in the absence of the mayor;

• Earmarking $1 million for pandemic response.