Mayor Gulley highlights sound finances, infrastructure improvements in State of the City Address
Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley highlighted infrastructure improvements, an improved city financial outlook and completed municipal projects during his State of the City Address delivered at the Bessemer Civic Center on January 29. Gulley said Bessemer has made great strides since he first took office in 2010. At the time, the city’s finances were in such disarray that many felt the city was headed toward financial insolvency. But by managing city finances in a wise manner, Gulley said Bessemer has been able to make a complete turnaround across many of its sectors, as evidenced by the completion of a new $6.2 million City Hall and a new $15 million Recreation Center which opened in late 2016. “There is no one who can honestly say, Bessemer is not better off today, than it was seven years ago,” Gulley said. “Whether it is roads or infrastructure, economic development, public safety, quality of life or education, there is no area of this city that has been untouched.” Gulley said the improved financial outlook for the city has allowed it to offer cost-of-living increases to current employees for six of the past seven years and a one-time bonus to retirees. With its financial situation greatly improved, the city has purchased new vehicles for Police, Fire and Public Works, including new garbage trucks and a new pumper truck for the Fire Department. The city settled a $4 million lawsuit with the Board of Education for non-payment of property taxes designated for education. The lawsuit was filed during the previous administration, but Gulley said it was important for the city to ensure that money set aside for schools finds its way to the classroom. “I said it then and I will say it now: we will not deprive our children of the resources they need to be successful,” the Mayor said. Among the other highlights in the State of the City:
- The city has or is resurfacing major arteries such as Dartmouth Avenue and Fourth Avenue. A $700,000 project to resurface the Academy Drive area is slated for this year, as is a $1.2 million project to pave residential streets.
- Expansion projects at companies such as Milo’s Tea, Flex-N-Gate and BLOX show the city is attracting industry and jobs. Gulley said he wants to continue to improve the capacity of the Bessemer Airport as an incentive for companies to locate in the city.
- The city has demolished some 500 blighted structures over the past seven years and is now working with organizations such as the Bessemer Housing Authority to increase homeownership by converting vacant and tax delinquent lots into new homes.
- New housing construction continues in the city and there are plans for 140 new garden homes to be constructed off Eastern Valley Road.