PART 3 | WALT MADDOX: LOOKING AHEAD
After an unsuccessful run for Alabama governor, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox is taking what he’s learned and applying it to the city. WVUA 23’s Jabaree Prewitt sat down with Maddox for a discussion on his future plans in this three-part special report.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox’s $250 million Elevate Tuscaloosa Proposal was a long time coming, he said, and it comes with some fixes that are also a long time overdue.
“My first action as mayor in 2005 was to apologize to the people of West Tuscaloosa for the neglect they’ve seen for decades,” he said. “It’s been our No. 1 core of believe because West Tuscaloosa didn’t get the investment they deserved over time.”
His new plan includes $60 million in West Tuscaloosa investments, including $18 million for the McDonald-Hughes Center.
“I’m very proud in our 13 years we’ve made more than $100 million worth of infrastructure investments that certainly made a difference,” he said. “Now we have to put in even more of what I call ‘surface investments’, so that’s why it’s part of the Elevate Tuscaloosa plan.”
That plan contains 19 projects throughout the city, and comes with a proposed 1-cent sales tax increase equaling out to about $250 million over the next 10 years.
“If we don’t (do this) we’re not going to feel the effect in five years,” Maddox said. “Maybe in 10 years, but most likely 15 years from now we’ll wish we’d have been ahead of the curve instead of reacting to the curve.”
Alabama Sen. Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa has already filed a bill in the Alabama legislature that requires a referendum before any sales tax increases are enacted in Tuscaloosa County, saying he feels the people of Tuscaloosa County should decide for themselves if they want to pay more taxes.
But that move, Maddox said, isn’t stopping him.
“Tuscaloosa has one of the highest credit ratings in the state, and the lowest city sales tax,” Maddox said. “We have one of the lowest unemployment rates, one of the highest employment rates. In nearly every measure that you judge a city, we’re in that top category.”
Alabama Rep. Chris England is filing a bill in the Alabama legislature that would exempt Tuscaloosa’s portion of the grocery tax if it’s passed.