Senate Passes Legislation to Increase Funding for Tuscaloosa County Schools and Roads

By Gerald Allen & Greg Reed

Today the Alabama Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen (R-Cottondale) and Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) to increase funding for Tuscaloosa County’s roads and schools. The entire Tuscaloosa County delegation contributed to and supports the bill. For the last five years, Tuscaloosa’s Department of Transportation (DOT) district has been last in the state for new road construction. The legislation does not raise taxes and will re-allocate the current sales tax. The bill now goes to Governor Bentley for his signature.

“The current sales tax allocation structure in Tuscaloosa County is a product of legislation from 1953. It is cumbersome, inflexible, and out-dated,” said Senator Allen. “This legislation has the support of every member of the Tuscaloosa County delegation and creates a modern framework for using tax dollars where they are most needed: to improve our roads and fund our schools, without raising taxes.”

The legislation has the support of the Tuscaloosa County School System and will earmark funds for the repair and maintenance of decaying schoolhouses and classrooms, along with funding the construction of new school buildings.

“I am pleased that our community has collaborated and worked together to secure and stabilize education funding and to address transportation needs that our community so desperately needs to address in order to improve traffic flow and grow our economy,” remarked Rep. Poole. “Ultimately, our community has chosen to work cooperatively to address our needs without raising taxes on our citizens.”

Tuscaloosa County’s roads and bridges will receive a massive overhaul under the proposal. The bill stipulates that within five years of its passage, significant improvements will be made to Highway 69, Highway 82 (McFarland Blvd), McWrights Ferry Road, Bear Creek Cutoff Road, while Jack Warner Blvd will become a four-lane thoroughfare. The bill will also create a 7-member Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Authority to manage and prioritize future road and bridge projects.

“New and improved roads equal more jobs,” said Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro). “We have to update our infrastructure to entice companies to locate here and keep our existing companies competitive in their markets. Over the last five years, we have been dead last in DOT bids for road construction, but this legislation will put us first in the state for new road projects over the next five years.”

The entire Tuscaloosa County legislative delegation – Republicans and Democrats – has worked on the proposed legislation and supports its passage. The delegation consists of the following legislators: Senator Gerald Allen (R-Cottondale), Senator Greg Reed (R-Jasper), Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), Rep. Rich Wingo (R-Tuscaloosa), Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa), Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette), Rep. Alan Harper (R-Aliceville), Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa), and Rep. A.J. Campbell (D-Demopolis).