Maddox’s “Conservative” 2021 Budget Includes Raise in Water Rate
Mayor Walt Maddox presented his $235 million budget proposal for the 2021 fiscal year to the Tuscaloosa City Council Tuesday night, which was predictably slimmed down after five months of contending with COVID-19.
This budget proposal includes a $10 million reduction from the FY2020 budget, a hike in municipal water rates, and large cuts in funding for outside agencies like the Tuscaloosa Public Library and the Park and Recreation Authority to offset losses in revenue caused by COVID-19.
Maddox is recommending a 3 percent hike in water and sewer service rates, which he said will increase the average residential bill by less than $2 a month. Garbage rates remain flat in his proposal.
Maddox also proposed extending the grace period for nonpayment of Water and Sewer bills to January 1, 2021 to provide additional relief to taxpayers during the pandemic.
Within City Hall, each department was tasked with reducing their operating budget (non-personnel) by 38% for the general fund, and by 12% in the water and sewer fund.
City leaders tried to save as many municipal jobs as possible, but 23 positions have been frozen and three more were permanently eliminated, freeing up approximately $1.5 million.
Maddox also proposes implementing a hiring freeze from October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, which Maddox said will have an additional projected $1 million.
Maddox proposed cutting funding for outside agencies by a staggering 38 percent, with two proposed exceptions -- Tuscaloosa City Schools and the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission.
Maddox also proposed giving PARA full funding later in the fiscal year if circumstances allow.
Some of the agencies most impacted by the proposed cut include the Tuscaloosa Public Library, the Children's Hands On Museum and FOCUS on Senior Citizens.
Maddox said the cuts would have been deeper if not for a $5.7 million grant awarded to the Tuscaloosa Transit Authority from the CARES Act, which will allow the city to reduce its own funding of the program for the next three or four years.
Watch Maddox's full presentation below.