The Tuscaloosa County Commission approved a $100 million budget on Oct. 2 for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The new budget increased over $7 million from last year’s total of $98 million and includes a 2% cost of living pay increases for county employees.

This is the 34th consecutive year county employees have received a cost of living pay increase.

“The Tuscaloosa County 2019-2020 budget is the largest in the history of the County and it is a balanced budget with no deficit spending,” said Tuscaloosa County Commissioner Stan Acker.

Every day, the men and women of the Tuscaloosa Police Department tell their loved ones goodbye, never knowing if they will return home. For every officer, never knowing the clear and present dangers is part of the mission and what sets them apart – it is what makes them heroes.

The City of Tuscaloosa has been awarded a $72,000 Federal Metropolitan Planning Fund Grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation to conduct a comprehensive transit study. This study will allow the Tuscaloosa County Parking and Transit Authority to identify the best approach for optimizing and expanding service to Tuscaloosa residents.

Last month, I begin a multi-part series regarding road construction in Tuscaloosa. Like you, I also find it frustrating being delayed in traffic or navigating rough conditions. Day-to-day this journey is difficult, but on the near horizon the upgrading of our infrastructure will create safer and smoother roads, enhanced connectivity, and new jobs. With the digital economy reshaping the landscape, waiting to improve the essential elements serving our city such as roads, water, sewer, and fiber through key areas was not a viable option. In order for Tuscaloosa to compete with Chattanooga, Lexington, Greenville, Knoxville, and many others for current and future knowledge-based and technology driven jobs, these much-needed improvements are fundamental.    

Do you have outstanding parking tickets? If so, you might be able to pay for them by donating school supplies this month.

Tuscaloosa is going through a time of exciting progress. The City of Tuscaloosa, the Alabama Department of Transportation, and the Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Commission (jointly funded by the City, Tuscaloosa County Commission, City of Northport, and Legislative Delegation) have embarked on significant projects across the community. We are the envy of most cities in Alabama because we are building a better future. However, with collaboration, innovation, and expansion comes growing pains.   

In my professional life, I have been guided by four leadership pillars: 1) Vision, 2) Organization, 3) Respect, and 4) Boldness.

As you know, the City Council recently passed the Elevate Tuscaloosa Plan. This bold vision provides the resources for our community to take on the challenges appearing over the horizon. History teaches us that having a vision is one thing, but implementing it is another, and Elevate Tuscaloosa is no different. In the months and years ahead, we will look to partner with community leaders as we seek to answer the significant questions that we have.

It is difficult to make hard decisions during good times. 

The Tuscaloosa City Council voted down Mayor Walt Maddox’s proposed 1-cent sales tax increase at a city council meeting on March 5. 

The plan, Elevate Tuscaloosa, was originally proposed as a $250 million plan that would fund recreation, education, and transportation in the city over the next decade. Despite a number of meetings, where members of the council and community gave counter-proposals to Maddox’s plan, the city council voted to kill the proposal with a vote of 4-3. 

On March 5, the Council defeated the Elevate Tuscaloosa plan which would have eliminated the city’s share of grocery tax and addressed three looming challenges on the horizon. The decline of the retail economy, The University of Alabama reaching its peak in student enrollment, and the severe workforce shortages in Tuscaloosa are serious obstacles we will face in the coming years. I am disappointed, but hopefully this is a beginning, not an end. Now it is the Council’s turn to lead, and I look forward to working with them. 

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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