Category: Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Council Delays BSC Funding Decision Until at Least Mid-April

The Birmingham City Council needs more questions answered before it will officially lend its support to the financially struggling Birmingham-Southern College.

A “resolution of intent” on the agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting would have seen the city promise to provide financial support to BSC — if the college could also secure binding funding commitments from the state of Alabama and the Jefferson County Commission.
But some councilors were reluctant to make that commitment without further discussions with college administrators first.

BSC President Daniel Coleman has said the board of trustees must decide the college’s future by the end of March to give students time to decide where to transfer and help faculty and staff make plans for their future. Read more.

City Relinquishes Power Over Old Powell School, Raising Concerns About Historic Preservation

After a contentious discussion, the Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to relinquish its interest in the historic Powell School building, which has been vacant for more than two decades.

Though developers of the property told councilors that historic preservation is their priority, they expressed doubts that they’d be able to save most of the 134-year-old structure. Now, with the city stepping out of the way, they won’t be compelled to.

Councilors split over the discussion. District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott said she was “aghast” at the idea of “giving the property away” to a developer with no guarantee of historical preservation.

Mayor Randall Woodfin retorted that it made less sense to leave the dilapidated school building standing. “It is clear blight,” he said. Read more.

Birmingham Council Sets Agenda for the Legislature, Backing Exhibition Driving, Illegal Dumping and More Bills

The Birmingham City Council has set its legislative agenda for 2023, establishing lobbying priorities for when the state Legislature convenes in March.

New priorities for the city include battling exhibition driving and allowing local banks to buy tax-delinquent properties, along with a slate of recurring issues.

The council’s list was approved without recommendation from Mayor Randall Woodfin’s office, which in the past has lobbied for its own separate list of legislative priorities. Read more.

Read the full City Legislative Package for 2023

Councilors Discuss Spending $500K to Send Neighborhood Leaders to Convention but With Report Requirement

Each year, the Birmingham City Council approves funding for hundreds of neighborhood officers to attend the Neighborhood USA conference. This year, though, that approval will likely come with the stipulation that attendees report back to their neighborhood associations on what they learned.

Pending a council vote next week, the city’s 99 neighborhoods will each have the option to send two representatives to NUSA, which this year will be held in El Paso, Texas. The conference offers what it describes as “cutting-edge workshops” and “tools and training to improve and maintain great neighborhoods every year.” Read more.

Birmingham to Spend $4 Million on Home Rehab Program

Birmingham residents will have a short window this month to apply for the Critical Home Rehabilitation Program, which will distribute more than $4 million to homes in need of repair around the city.

That’s the most the city has ever dedicated on housing rehabilitation, Mayor Randall Woodfin told councilors on Tuesday. He noted that, in the previous three years combined, the city spent $2 million to rehab 224 homes, at a cost of roughly $15,000 per home. This year, the city will spend $4 million to repair at least 250 homes, with an allocation of $30,000 per home. Read more.

Pay Raises, Recreation Areas Provided Under Woodfin’s Budget Surplus Plan

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to unanimously approve Mayor Randall Woodfin’s plans for spending the city’s $81 million budget surplus, with money allocated to a cost-of-living adjustment for city employees, capital improvement for parks and libraries, and funding for a new amphitheater in the city’s Uptown entertainment district. Read more.

Birmingham Council Looks to Reduce Crime With Statistical Analysis

The Birmingham City Council has approved a partnership with the nonprofit Aspen Institute to gather and analyze a wide variety of data about the city’s 99 neighborhoods.

The project, named the Birmingham/Aspen Justice and Governance Partnership, is intended to reduce crime by gathering and analyzing hyperlocal statistics — for example, the number of traffic stops or emergency room admissions in a given neighborhood. This information would be made publicly available and could be used by lawmakers to inform policy. Read more.

Birmingham to Invest in Temporary Housing for Homeless Residents

Taking the first steps in a community-focused plan to combat homelessness, the city of Birmingham has signed on to purchase 50 units of transitional housing for the unsheltered.

The purchase, totaling nearly $1 million, is the first step in a program that will require significant participation from third-party nonprofits and for which details remain fuzzy.

Where the new shelters will be placed, for example, is still up in the air. That will be dependent on the results of a request-for-proposal process, through which local nonprofits can pitch locations and operational plans, including wraparound services they would offer on-site. Read more.

Birmingham in Line for Grant to Develop ‘Transformational’ Housing in Smithfield Area

A “transformational” housing redevelopment project could be headed to the Smithfield Community — if the city can obtain a highly competitive federal grant.

Birmingham is applying for a Choice Neighborhood Initiative Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which would supply the city with up to $50 million to construct up to 1,000 new and replacement mixed-income housing units in the neighborhoods of Smithfield, Graymont and College Hills. The scope of the grant would include redevelopment of the Smithfield Court public housing community, though the affordable housing would be decentralized and blended with market-rate housing. Read more.

Birmingham Police Partner with DEA to Battle Violent Crime

Birmingham Police officers will be assigned to a new High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas task force under a partnership between the Police Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The partnership, Mayor Randall Woodfin said, will “make a huge difference” in the city’s fight against violent crime. Read more.