Category: Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Council Hires Its Own Lobbyist and Lawyer, Saying the Mayor Doesn’t Share Information

The Birmingham City Council hired its own lobbyist and legal consultant Tuesday, a move granting the council greater independence from the mayor’s office.

The council approved two $45,000 contracts during its virtual meeting — one with lobbying firm Miller Development Group and one with law firm Campbell Partners, LLC. The council cited the opacity of Mayor Randall Woodfin’s legislative agenda and the need for a “council-focused” legal consultant outside of the city’s law department, which reports to the mayor. The Mayor’s Office retains its own lobbyist.

“This council needs help, and we need our own help, because the city’s help is not ours,” said District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott. “They don’t report to us, they don’t answer to us, they don’t do what we want.” Read more.

Birmingham Council Goes Virtual, Mayor Still Hospitalized

On Tuesday, for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Birmingham City Council opted for an all-virtual council meeting — though, at least initially, that format kept them from accomplishing much. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin remains hospitalized with COVID-related pneumonia. Read more.

Two Birmingham Water Board Leaders Reappointed, Two New Members Named

The Birmingham City Council approved four appointments to the Birmingham Water Works Board on Tuesday, with terms set to stretch through 2024. The council appoints six of the BWWB’s nine members; the other three seats are appointed by the Jefferson County Mayor’s Association, the Shelby County Commission and the Blount County Commission. Read more.

Birmingham Council OKs Incentives for Project at Old Carraway Hospital

The Birmingham City Council approved an economic incentives package for the long-awaited redevelopment of the former Carraway Hospital property. Northside Redevelopment, the company overseeing the mixed-use development project, will receive an aggregate of $13.2 million in incentives, the council decided Tuesday. Read more.

Birmingham Revenue Appears Stable, Council Extends Funding for Rickwood, McWane and Ruffner

Birmingham’s finances appear to be holding steady despite COVID-19’s impact on city revenues, finance director Lester Smith told city councilors Tuesday afternoon — though he warned that a clear picture of the city’s financial health won’t be visible until March. Read more.

Birmingham Bringing Back Up to 132 of Its Furloughed Employees

The Birmingham City Council has approved a plan to bring up to 132 furloughed city employees — mostly from the Birmingham Public Library and the city parks department — back to work.

The workers were furloughed in September due to budget cuts necessitated by COVID-19’s impact on city revenue.

The plan, described as a compromise between mayor and council, will be funded by $4.85 million borrowed from the city’s general fund reserve. That’s far less than the $7 million requested in Woodfin’s initial plan, which would also have restored two paid holidays for city employees and reversed some salary reductions to appointed staff. Read more.

Council Postpones Vote on Holiday Pay, Says Woodfin Expects Them to Make Budget Decisions “Blindly”

Black Friday will be an unpaid holiday for Birmingham city employees after the City Council delayed a proposal by Mayor Randall Woodfin to pay employees out of city reserves.

In a last-minute addendum to Tuesday morning’s meeting agenda, Woodfin called for the city to take $807,333 out of the city’s general fund to restore the paid holiday, which had been nixed due to COVID-19-related budget cutbacks. Employees still will receive their regular paychecks next week but without payment for Nov. 27.

Councilors balked at Woodfin’s proposal because it was brought to them without warning and without details on the health of the reserve fund. One objected to the mayor’s asking the council to make major financial decisions while figuring out the budget numbers “on the back of a cocktail napkin.” Read more.