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’s crime-rate continues to drop, evidenced by a 40 percent drop in homicides in the past five years, a 16 percent drop in burglaries and an 18-percent drop in robberies in 2017. The city is continuing to hire new officers to fully staff its police department.
Gulley said the Bessemer Recreation Center now boasts a membership of 8,000. The Recreation Center staff is currently working on hosting the city’s first 5K run in April, he said.
Gulley said the city will continue to address issues such as juvenile delinquency and improving parks and recreational amenities in the city.
“None of us could have imagined all these things being done in our city some seven years ago,” Gulley said. “But each year we have made incremental progress.”
“We have accomplished a lot since those dark days of 2010. But as I said earlier, “We’re not done yet.”
You can read the entire State of the City Address at the following link: http://www.bessemeral.org/state-of-the-city-address/