Tag: Birmingham City Council

Mayor Woodfin Previews FY 2019 Budget, the City’s Largest Ever

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin gave members of the City Council a preview of his proposed FY 2019 operating budget during a committee meeting Wednesday.

While his brief presentation included few specifics — the full operating budget will be presented during the City Council’s meeting Tuesday — Woodfin did address the pressing issue of the city’s unfunded pension liability and encourage neighborhood associations to be more proactive in their individual revitalization efforts.

At $436 million, the new budget will be the city’s largest to date, edging out the previous year’s budget by $8 million. Woodfin is using a zero-based budgeting process, meaning that each budget item is considered anew, not based on its inclusion or lack thereof in the previous year’s budget. Read more.

Birmingham Pursuing Grant for Titusville Pedestrian Bridge

The Birmingham City Council passed a resolution Tuesday authorizing Mayor Randall Woodfin to pursue a grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation to build a pedestrian bridge across a Titusville railroad track. The bridge would allow students of the neighborhood’s Booker T. Washington K-8 School to safely cross the track. Read more.

Birmingham City Council Approves “Brunch Bill,” Extension of 1-Cent Sales Tax

April 10, 2018 — The Birmingham City Council approved two revenue-generating ordinances during Tuesday’s meeting — one allowing for earlier alcohol sales on Sundays and the other extending the city’s 1-cent sales tax indefinitely.

The first of those, nicknamed the “brunch bill,” will allow restaurants in the city to service alcohol for on-premises consumption starting at 10 a.m. on Sundays. Previously, restaurants had been barred from selling alcohol from 2 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sundays, a rule that still applies to retailers selling alcohol for off-premises consumption.

The sales tax extension proved more controversial, with two councilors expressing concern over how the revenue was being spent. Read more.

Birmingham Council Rejects License for Scrap Metal Processor, Cites Pollution of Black Neighborhoods

March 20, 2018 — Citing a need to change historical disenfranchisement and pollution of Birmingham’s black neighborhoods, the Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to deny a scrap metal processors license to a company attempting to establish a scrap-processing yard in the Acipco-Finley neighborhood.

A group of citizens from that neighborhood appeared at the meeting’s public hearing to speak against the proposal from Jordan Industrial Services.

Jordan’s attorney, Mike Brown, argued that Jordan had worked to clean up the property, alleging that its previous tenant, Kimmerling Truck Parts and Equipment, had left “a pretty bad eyesore for the community.”
But residents argued that a new coat of paint and some cleaning wouldn’t address the larger issues of air pollution generated by the yard.

A 2012 report by the Houston Chronicle, found “dangerous levels” of hexavalent chromium — a highly carcinogenic pollutant also known as Chrome VI — in the areas surrounding five metal recycling operations in that city. Read more.

Birmingham City Council Approves New Stadium, in Theory

Feb. 6, 2018 — The Birmingham City Council voted today to support the construction of a new multi-purpose facility at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

The vote followed a lengthy back-and-forth among the council, Mayor Randall Woodfin and members of the public, with proponents arguing that the development will bring much-needed revenue into the city and opponents expressing skepticism about the necessity of the proposed 30-year, $90 million investment.

The BJCC expansion and renovation, which would include the construction of a new open-air stadium, would be funded by a mix of public and private sources. The city is slated to contribute $3 million a year for 30 years to the stadium; the BJCC Authority will pay $10.7 in annual debt service; UAB and private entities will contribute $4 million a year for 10 years; the Jefferson County government will pay $1 million a year for 30 years; and a proposed increase to the city’s rental car tax, still pending in the state Legislature, would account for $3.5 million in annual funding for 30 years.

Woodfin and Council President Valerie Abbott both emphasized that Tuesday’s vote was not for a specific contract or to allocate any funds, but rather a general statement of willingness to negotiate a specific plan. A Q-and-A between District 8 Councilor Steven Hoyt and Woodfin, published online Monday, highlighted that many of the details have yet to be set in concrete.

Woodfin compared the resolution to a marriage proposal. “A person asking you to marry (them) is very different from the process of a prenuptial agreement,” he said. Read more.

Council Moves Money From Legion Field Account to Lobby For Tax Increase to Fund Tourism and Economic Development

Jan. 23, 2018 — The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to reallocate $100,000 that had been earmarked for improving Legion Field to instead lobby in Montgomery for legislation designed to generate millions a year for the city.

Though the specifics of the legislation were not given during Tuesday’s council meeting, Councilor William Parker, chair of the parks and recreation committee, said after the meeting that one bill would be a proposed increase to the city’s automobile rental tax. Parker said the change could secure “millions of dollars for funding for tourism and entertainment and also for economic development opportunities … on an annual basis.” https://birminghamwatch.org/council-moves-money-legion-field-account-lobby-tax-increase-fund-tourism-economic-development/

Birmingham City Councilor Calls for Changes to Alabama Open Meetings Act

Dec. 19, 2017 — One Birmingham city councilor called Tuesday for a reevaluation of the Alabama Open Meetings Act, the state law requiring governmental meetings to be accessible to the public.

John Hilliard, the newly elected councilor for District 9, made his remarks at the council’s regularly scheduled meeting during discussion of an item that would allow members of council committees to appoint proxies when they are unable to attend a committee meeting.

The text of the resolution was not made available even to members of the council, and its sponsor, Councilor Lashunda Scales, was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

But before the council voted to delay the item, it became the springboard for a freewheeling discussion about the legalities involved with committee meetings. Read more.

To Uber or Not to Uber: That is the Question Before Birmingham’s Transportation Committee

Nov. 20, 2017 — Birmingham City Councilors say they may revisit the ordinance that allowed ridesharing company Uber to begin operating in the city.

During its first meeting of the 2017-2021 term, the council’s transportation committee — now led by District 5 Councilor Darrell O’Quinn — received a presentation from Stephanie Jones, a representative of Birmingham Cab Drivers United.

Jones expressed concerns about ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, which she said operated “under no rules, regulations, nothing.” In particular, she pointed to a perceived lack of accountability ride-sharing companies have to city governments, specifically regarding background checks — which, currently, are done in-house at their respective companies. Read more.

A False Start: Birmingham Council Brings up Budget Then Decides the Newly Elected Need More Time to Study It

Nov. 14, 2017 — A budget for the 2018 fiscal year came closer to passage than ever during Tuesday’s meeting of the Birmingham City Council, but consideration eventually was pushed back to December because of concerns that newly elected officials had not had enough say in the matter. Read more.

Birmingham Council Considers Pulling License of Onyx Lounge

Nov. 7, 2017 — The debate at Tuesday’s Birmingham City Council meeting was in many ways a retread of last week’s discussion, with approximately three hours dedicated to a public hearing on the potential revocation of a nightclub’s business license after reported incidents of violence and crime.
This time the venue in question was Onyx Lounge, at 615 Eighth Ave. W. The discussion drew a large enough crowd that, early in the meeting, the fire marshal refused to allow any more people into the council chambers. Read more.