The Selma City Finance Committee met via Zoom Tuesday night to discuss what is needed to get a 2021 budget in place.
Mayor James Perkins Jr. told the committee it will take at least until the end of the month to finish restructuring the budget using what information he has to work with. He will meet with department heads to get an idea of what they need and told the committee, which is made up of the council members, that he will likely send sections of the budget to be reviewed as they are prepared to save time.
The process is taking longer than planned, he said, because of the rise in COVID-19 cases that is starting to impact city employees and their families and require quarantines. Perkins also doesn’t have an assistant, which is one of the positions he asked the city council to add last week, which they agreed. The budget increase for new department leaders is nearly $400,000.
The city’s budget is required to be completed by Oct. 1, but the previous city council punted budget changes to the incoming newly elected council that has been in place for two weeks. Under the previous administration, a new budget has not been approved in at least four years.
The city is behind two audits, which Perkins hopes can get done by the same auditor at the same time to catch up.
Councilwoman Jannie Thomas suggested the mayor conduct an inventory of city equipment, saying some items may be missing. Councilman Michael Johnson said the city’s equipment is worn out and not replaced, so departments need more to do the day-to-day operations.
Perkins said there may need to be a forensic audit if it is found that items are missing from the city, but it is a call he would have to make. There is a state public examiners audit that ends in August 2019, so the city can look closely at expenditures after that timeframe.
Even though the budget discussion sounds gloomy, Perkins said he is “cautiously optimistic with where we are.”