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Council approves new equipment for city landfill

During its meeting Tuesday night, the Selma City Council approved an expenditure of more than $300,000 for equipment to bring the Selma City Landfill up to Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) requirements following a more than $15,000 fine for a multitude of violations over the last couple of years.

The council approved spending $149,877 on a dozer, $195,322 for a dump truck, $6,800 for 900-feet of silt fence and signage for all points entering the landfill for $1,100.

The council also approved a warranty on the equipment.

According to Selma City Council President Corey Bowie, Tuesday’s vote represents a step toward fulfilling requirements of the city’s corrective action plan, required as part of the violations noted by ADEM.

However, Bowie noted that the equipment is only the first step in the process of bringing the landfill up to specifications – another five employees will be brought on to help out, once job descriptions and salary scales are laid out, and a public relations campaign will be launched to ensure that household garbage is no longer being disposed of at the landfill.

The council also approved a pay increase for poll workers, increasing their pay from roughly $200 to $300 – with a total of 72 poll workers, the total for the raise comes out to $21,600.

“During this pandemic,

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are going to be out there working and this is something we can do to provide some kind of incentive,” Bowie said. “Safety is always paramount, but we wanted to make sure we gave something extra. This is the first election we’ve held during a pandemic – we didn’t want to just provide face masks and hand sanitizer, we wanted to get them a little more pay.”

Bowie noted that the proposal was championed by Selma City Councilman Sam Randolph, who has been an outspoken advocate for an increase in pay for city workers.

The council also approved the purchase of six Electric Fogger Atomizer four-gallon backpack sprayers – two for the Selma Police Department (SPD), two for the Selma Fire Department (SFD) and two for Selma City Hall – which will be used to deep clean and sanitize various buildings ahead of the upcoming election, particularly city hall.

“This place need to be sanitized before people go in and cast their ballots,” Bowie said. “With the police department, the in and out all day, we’ve had some already test positive for COVID-19. That’s why [SPD Chief Kenta Fulford] is trying to be more proactive rather than reactive.”

The council also formalized Juneteenth as a local holiday following executive action by Selma Mayor Darrio Melton looking to officially recognize the day in Selma.

“We just wanted to do it the proper way, which starts with an ordinance,” Bowie said.

The ordinance would allow for city workers to possibly have the day off in celebration of the day, but Bowie said details on that issue will be worked out down the road.

“We’re just looking at it,” Bowie said. “It may be that the council comes back and makes it a half day, but we just want to recognize it as an official holiday in the City of Selma. We just put the wheels in motion.”

The council also approved extending hazard pay to non-public safety city employees, at a cost of $110,913.30, to be pulled from the $1 million reserve account.

“They have been dealing with COVID-19 and working,” Bowie said. “Since they couldn’t go through the [Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security] CARES Act, because we wouldn’t be reimbursed, we used the reserve account. This is a way of just getting some extra funds to our employees.”

The council also moved the next series of meetings to Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 – the next meeting was scheduled for Aug. 25, the day of Selma’s local elections.

The council also approved its agency contracts, such as those with the Old Depot Museum, the Selma-Dallas County Public Library and others, and Selma City Councilman John Leashore offered a ceremonial proposal to offer support for a decision by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill to send election monitors to parts of the Black Belt, including Selma, to look out for fraud and corruption related to the upcoming election.

Elsewhere in the meeting, Selma City Treasurer Ronita Wade provided the council with a financial update for July, which showed the following:

• Sales tax revenue came in at just over $979,106, a decrease over June’s rate of more than $1 million, but up from last year’s $885,424.24;

• Lodging tax revenue came in at just under $18,500, a decrease over June’s rate of more than $25,500 and last year’s rate of nearly $29,000;

• Tobacco tax revenue came in a just under $31,175, an increase over June’s rate of just over $30,500 and last year’s rate of just over $23,000;

• Lodging tax surcharge revenue, which benefits the Grist-Brown YMCA, was unchanged between June and July, holding fast at $7,975.83, but down from the $11,410.87 collected during the same time last year;

• Half-cent sales tax revenue came in at just under $122,400 last month, a decrease from June’s rate of more than $127,160 but an increase over numbers logged a year ago, just under $11,680;

• Simplified seller-use tax revenue came in at just over $76,885 last month, a slight increase over June’s rate of just under $75,500 and well above the nearly $42,970 registered last year;

• Municipal Aid street gas tax revenue came in at just under $15,965 last month, an increase over June’s rate of just over $12,410, but down from the more than $19,200 logged last year.