Proposed bill would give city of Tuscaloosa’s ability to raise taxes to voters instead

Debate over raising taxes in Tuscaloosa

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - State Senator Gerald Allen agreed with some of the things Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox asked state legislators to support during Thursday morning’s legislative breakfast. But he’s against the Tuscaloosa city council deciding if taxes should go up.

“I just think giving the right to the citizens to go to the polls and vote is the best thing for this particular issue. That way, you can have no doubt that the plan that has been presented is one that’s best for Tuscaloosa, the entire county,” Allen concluded.

Allen filed a bill that would allow voters in Tuscaloosa, Northport, and four towns in Tuscaloosa County to decide if they want higher taxes. He said it’s the job of elected officials to convince the people why they should pay more.

“I think its their job to sell and have those public hearings and to tell the facts, exactly how much this program is going to cost,” Allen expressed.

Maddox said there’s nothing wrong with debating the matter, but he says taking the right to raise taxes could hurt the city in other ways. “It sounds great and it would be great for politics. But the application would be disastrous because regardless of what happens in the future, immediately your bond rating would is going to be down-graded, tax payers are going to take on millions of dollars of new interest payments. That money is not going to be available again. Sometimes good politics doesn’t make for good policy,” Maddox went on to say.

Tuscaloosa’s city council will have meetings next week to consider the one cent sales tax proposed in Mayor Maddox’s Elevate Tuscaloosa proposal.

Alabama’s legislative session begins March 5.

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