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Mayors meet to discuss improvements in communities

Mayor Walt Maddox unveils his four-year plan for the city of Tuscaloosa.  CW File 

Nick Privitera

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Mayor Walter Maddox met with the mayors of Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery at the Embassy Suites in downtown Tuscaloosa this morning. They hosted a press conference after the meeting, sharing information about what was discussed.

The mayors, who represent the five largest cities in the state, shared their ideas and experiences from their communities to help each other think of ways to improve their respective municipalities.

“I believe, and I think my colleagues behind me believe that the innovation in government takes place at the local level,” Maddox said. “What we represent is not big government or less government, it is effective government.”

The mayors spoke about how meeting with each other has given them insights into community improvements, using each other as examples. They talked about ride-share programs, opportunity gaps and infrastructure improvements.

As a result of the mayoral meetings, legislation was formed to bring nearly $200 million in infrastructure improvements to Tuscaloosa County over the next ten years.

According to Maddox, steps are being taken to bring rideshare programs such as Uber and Lyft to Tuscaloosa. It is a matter of making sure the companies meet certain safety regulations such as background checks for drivers.

“We certainly want them here in Tuscaloosa and feel that they would be an asset,” Maddox said. “Now, simultaneously we have to balance our responsibility for public safety, in particular, looking at background checks and vehicle inspections and commercial liability. But I do believe those are hurdles that can be overcome.”

Mayor William Bell of Birmingham discussed improving the quality of life in the communities through advances in transport, infrastructure and specialized training programs.

“We have been looking at quality of life issues as in relation to our young people in the community,” Bell said. “For example, we know that their is a problem and an issue of young people without specialized training or direction in life. We want to look at what programs we can put in place to give our kids a chance to thrive and grow.”

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Mayors meet to discuss improvements in communities