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Councilmen clash over pay for workers during Tuesday meeting

During the Selma City Council’s regular meeting, held virtually Tuesday evening, Selma City Councilmen Sam Randolph and John Leashore bumped heads over how to handle a bump in pay for employees in the City of Selma Public Works Department.

Leashore, alongside Selma City Councilman Michael Johnson, has been pushing for Public Works employees to receive hazard pay – the terminology of which was discussed elsewhere in the meeting – similar to that recently approved for the Selma Fire Department (SFD) and Selma Police Department (SPD).

Randolph, meanwhile, has questioned why Public Works employees are deserving of such a temporary pay bump and insisted that, instead of a temporary increase, the workers should receive a permanent raise.

Randolph has claimed that laid-off Public Works employees were brought back on the job making only a portion of what they were making before – the same assertion Tuesday night is what set off the brief confrontation between the two councilmen.

Leashore contested Randolph’s claims, saying that he talked to employees in the department who reported that they were actually making more money that they were prior to the layoff and questioned where Randolph’s facts are coming from.

Johnson agreed with Leashore, saying that he too had spoken with Public Works employees and found that many were rehired as new workers and started off at minimum wage or just over, but were quickly moved into higher-paying positions within the department – Johnson said none of the workers hired back are making minimum wage unless they refused a better-paying job.

Selma City Councilwoman Angela Benjamin chimed in and implored the men to turn the question to the city’s financial overseer, Selma City Treasurer Ronita Wade, who claimed that many came back making less than before, but admitted that she did not know the workers’ current salaries.

Bedlam ensued as Randolph began blasting the fact that the workers rehired at the department weren’t given back their accrued vacation and sick time – Randolph chided Selma Mayor Darrio Melton and the council for not doing enough for the workers.

“Y’all didn’t fight hard enough for them employees that got laid off,” Randolph said. “Because y’all was in cahoots with the mayor.”

Leashore lashed out, taking Randolph to task over his unwillingness to back a proposal that would have brought back a handful of workers temporarily last summer and asserting that the money spent on Randolph’s “training and travel” could have been spent on city workers.

Selma City Councilwoman Angela Benjamin could be heard laughing at the exchange in the background as Selma City Council President Corey Bowie struggled to regain order.

Elsewhere in the meeting, Wade reported that April sales tax revenues came in at more than $949,000, an increase of more than $22,400 over the same period last year, and lodging tax revenues came in at more than $47,500, an increase of more than $14,000 over last year.

The city saw a $6,500 decrease in tobacco tax revenue in April and a more than $8,000 increase in sales tax surcharge revenue, all of which is bound for the Grist-Brown YMCA; half-cent sales tax revenue came in at more than $118,600 last month, an increase of more than $2,800 over last year’s numbers, and simplified seller-use tax revenue, at over $55,400, increased by more than $20,200 over the year.

Municipal aid street gas tax revenue stayed relatively unchanged at nearly $16,300 and Rebuild Alabama gas tax revenue came in at over $5,000 for gasolines and $1,400 for diesel.

The council ended up tabling both items on its consent agenda – a citizen-requested variance hearing and $34,000 for a new animal control truck for the SPD – as well as a resolution “honoring the life and work” of Selma native Sally Jackson and a plan to revive funding designated for the Old Depot Museum, which was inexplicably halted last September.

Elsewhere in the meeting, Edgar Calloway, a representative from NorthStar Paramedic Services, discussed his intention to provide emergency medical services to the city after the announcement that Care Ambulance would be ceasing operations July 1.

Calloway is a Selma native who has worked with the Tuscaloosa-based company for the last 23 years.