Mayor Gulley struggles with finances just weeks into office

BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) - By Jonathan Hardison

BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) - Bessemer faces serious financial concerns. The city's in the hole, which could mean mean job cuts.

The new mayor, Ken Gulley, said Tuesday that he was just worried about being able to make payroll. He thinks the city will barely be able to do that. Going forward, he says painful cuts are coming and he blames much of that on the former mayor Ed May, but May says not so fast.

Gulley's been on the job a little over a week and says he's shocked at what he's seen when he looked at the city's checkbook.

"I heard a lot of the horror stories and had some idea, but I had no idea the financial picture of this city was as bad as it is," Gulley said.

Gulley says the city had to find $750,000 dollars in a matter of days to make its payroll this week. He continues to worry about paying his employees at the next paycheck in 2 weeks. On top of that, the city owes money to several vendors but doesn't have the cash on hand to pay them. "A couple of words come to mind, and that's just gross neglect," Gulley said. "It's just negligence of the city government, it's just a neglect of finances."  

Gulley also says he believes May hired between 25 and 30 new city workers over the last couple of months. And now, Gulley believes he'll be forced to layoff city workers to balance the budget.

"I figure a lot of these things were done intentionally," Gulley said. "I don't know why you would do that to put the city in a more compromising position than it already is, but that's a question you'll have to pose to the former mayor."

"If that is truly his opinion, then he is in more trouble than I thought he would be," May said. "Because that suggests to me he doesn't have any idea or an appreciation that he doesn't have the intellect or imagination to realize that we're still in a recession."

May says an unexpected healthcare premium increase in July is responsible for more than a million dollars in extra expenses and says this is usually a slow time of year for revenue. He says he's offended Gulley accuses him of mismanaging finances because he says this struggle to meet payroll happened at least twice while he was in office.

"If I were mayor today, based upon what I've been told and what I've read, I would've made the same acknowledgement to the council, I would've announced to them and requested the same thing," May said. "So it has nothing to do with mismanagement."
"This should've been handled months and months and years ago, but I don't think nobody should be laid off or nothing like that," said Bessemer resident, Roger Thompson.

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