State senator proposes wholesale changes to Tuscaloosa County governments

Proposal to consolidate governments in west Alabama
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 8:15 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - A state senator from west Alabama is proposing a huge change for YOUR local government.

He wants to consolidate all the mayor governments in Tuscaloosa County into one metro entity.

Senator Gerald Allen says he believes combining all the major governments in the county such as the cities of Northport, Tuscaloosa, and Tuscaloosa County would not only streamline governmental services, but make the area more appealing to industries.

Jamar Hackett of Northport likes the concept of a metro government but needs more answers before making a decision.

“It would be like mixed emotions. In one way, they would be helping each other out and wouldn’t be a strain on each other. Coming together could be a good thing,” said Hackett.

Hackett, of course, is only one voice and there’s no word yet how the majority of the folks in Tuscaloosa County feel right now about the idea. Senator Allen believes such a move has merit. The senator sees it as an economic issue since Tuscaloosa is considered the ‘economic driver’ of west Alabama.

“When you look at savings, metro governments can provide for the citizens and you have a total, a team so-to-speak they know when they come they’re speaking with one, not different sellers,” said Allen who represents this part of west Alabama.

Senator Allen has a bill in the legislature but says he will not advance it until he gets the necessary input from everyone, leaders in all three governmental entities, and citizens. One official in Northport is not on board.

“We already have a great working relationship and it is strengthened day-by-day with our partnerships with each other. As for our citizens, each of those have wants and needs, so I don’t see where this would be beneficial at all,” said Northport city council president Jeff Hogg.

For people like Jamar Hackett, a lot of unanswered questions need to be addressed such as what would a metro government actually look like in a practical sense and the potential cost-savings versus the cost of combining all three into one.

Tuscaloosa County Commission Chairman Judge Rob Robertson says he has no comment for now because he hasn’t had a chance to review the senator’s proposal.

Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox was said to be unavailable and out of the office Thursday.

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