Category: Birmingham City Council

Neighborhood, Economic Development Groups Protest Woodfin’s Budget

May 14, 2018 – Mayor Randall Woodfin was not present Monday night at the public hearing on his proposed FY 2019 budget. If he had been, he would have faced complaints from a handful of organizations unhappy that their city funding had been cut or eliminated entirely.

The members of the City Council who were there — all but District 1 Councilor Lashunda Scales — appeared sympathetic to almost all of the parties who spoke at the hearing, and they even pledged to some organizations that they would advocate for them during the upcoming budget negotiations with Woodfin’s office.

Eliciting the most sympathy from the council were several neighborhood association officers, led by Central Park Neighborhood Association President Susan Palmer, who expressed anger that the new budget would cut funding to neighborhoods. Read more.

What’s in Woodfin’s Budget? Infrastructure Funding, Eliminated Vacancies and a Transit Shake-Up

Mayor Randall Woodfin revealed his proposal for the city’s FY 2019 budget during Tuesday’s meeting of the Birmingham City Council.

At just more than $436 million, it’s the city’s largest budget to date, clocking in at nearly $7 million more than that of the previous year. As the first budget proposal created entirely during Woodfin’s time as mayor, it is the clearest representation of his nascent administration’s economic goals to date.

“It’s a new day in Birmingham,” Woodfin told the council, “not just through the budget process, but with the way we spend and oversee the tax dollars entrusted to us.” The budget, he added, “represents some difficult and responsible decisions that must be made to support our priorities,” most significantly neighborhood revitalization. Read more.

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.

Questions Raised About Legal Protections for Historic Monuments in Court Hearing Over Linn Park’s Plywood Screen

After nearly three hours of debate, lawyers for the city of Birmingham and the state of Alabama left court Friday with homework instead of a ruling on the matter of the Confederate monument in Linn Park.

The city erected a plywood screen around the monument and sought to challenge a state law signed in May 2017 that protects monuments. But in court Friday, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Graffeo raised questions related to older laws dealing with Confederate monuments. He asked lawyers for the city to address his questions by May 4. Attorneys for the state will then respond.

Lawyers also argued over whether, if the judge does decide to fine the city, that find should be a flat $25,000 or $25,000 a day, which would be more than $6 million. 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 Approves Money for New Stadium Despite Opponents’ Fears

March 27, 2018 — After more than four hours of debate, the Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to approve funding for expansions and renovations to the BJCC, including the construction of an open-air stadium.

Mayor Randall Woodfin pushed for the council to approve the project, which will require the city to contribute $3 million a year for 30 years. But the project received major pushback from critics — most vocally District 1 Councilor Lashunda Scales — who questioned the city’s return on the investment as well as the necessity of a new stadium.

Other councilors said they had been given the detailed agreement just hours before the meeting and did not feel comfortable voting on it without more time to study it.

The council voted 6-3 to approve the project. Construction could start by the beginning of the year. 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.

The Next 100: Woodfin Outlines Recommendations Committees Made on Neighborhoods, Economic Development and Schools, Among Others

Mayor Randall Woodfin in his “The First One Hundred” event Thursday evening presented the findings of his transition committees and vowed to make several changes to the structure of Birmingham’s city government based on the reports.

Woodfin gave his presentation during an event at the Alabama Theatre. Though the event’s title ostensibly referred to Woodfin’s first 100 days in office – a benchmark reached March 8 – Woodfin mostly ceded the spotlight to the heads of his transition team’s five citizen-led committees. He responded briefly to their suggestions at the end of each committee’s presentation.

Among the changes he said would be coming, Woodfin said he’s willing to form a formal partnership with the city school system. He also said he will reshape the mayor’s office’s division of economic development to the Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, and he said he would create the Mayor’s Office of Social Justice during his next 100 days.

A 35-page booklet titled “The Woodfin Way: A Citizen-Led Transition for Progress in Birmingham” summarized the transition team’s findings and Woodfin’s resulting plans. The booklet was handed out during the event and is available online.

Transition committees reporting during the event were on neighborhood revitalization and public safety, education and workforce development, entrepreneurship and economic development, transparent and efficient government and social justice. Read more.
Read the full version of “The Woodfin Way: A Citizen-Led Transition for Progress in Birmingham.”