Category: Birmingham City Council

Protestors Not Allowed Into Birmingham Council Meeting to Speak on Drastic Cuts to the Library Budget

Protestors gathered outside Birmingham City Hall on Tuesday morning, but they weren’t allowed to speak at the City Council meeting going on three stories above them.

The demonstrators held signs that read “Reject Woodfin’s Budget,” “Furlough Woodfin” and “Fund Books Not Brutality.” One neon-yellow sign read: “Dear Randall Woodfin & City Council: Y’all have got to do a better job pretending to care …”

On Friday, the Birmingham Public Library’s board of trustees made the decision to furlough 157 employees, the result of significant cuts in the budget recommended by Mayor Randall Woodfin’s office. Read more.

Woodfin’s Constantly Changing Budget Leaves Library Board, City Council to Wonder: “What the Heck Is Going On?”

The future remains uncertain for the Birmingham Public Library and its 230 employees, thanks to city budget cuts necessitated by COVID-19.

And there have been no clear answers from Mayor Randall Woodfin regarding just how much money the library system will receive from the city, which will determine how many branches will have to close and how many employees have to be furloughed.

Or rather, as members of the BPL Board of Trustees remarked during a library board meeting Tuesday afternoon, there have been several clear answers from Woodfin, all of them dramatically different.
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Birmingham City Council Seeks Halt to Closing of Recreation Centers

Members of the Birmingham City Council called on the city’s Park and Recreation Board Tuesday to halt plans to close 12 recreation centers until a “more equitable” plan can be created.

The centers in question — Brownsville Heights, Harriman, Harrison, Henry Crumpton, Hooper City, Howze-Sanford, Inglenook, North Birmingham, Roosevelt City, Sandusky/Hudson, Wiggins and Willow Wood — would have to close as a result of employee furloughs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Park and Recreation Director Shonae’ Eddins-Bennett told the council on Sept. 10.
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Birmingham Contemplates Privatizing or Automating Garbage Pick Up

Mayor Randall Woodfin urged councilors to consider either automating or outsourcing Birmingham’s garbage pickup program during a special-called meeting of the City Council Thursday night, arguing that it is unsustainable in its current form.

In a joint presentation with the city’s public works, legal and finance departments, Woodfin called for the city to either “engage an experienced refuse management service” or to “automate the city’s refuse collection fleet by purchasing 20 side loaders and adding tipper (trucks) to (the) existing fleet.”

Both options would provide significant cost savings to the city amid an economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, he said, though he added that the need for change predated the pandemic. Read more.

Approval of New License Plate Cameras Stir Up the ‘Defund the Police’ Argument in Birmingham

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to approve the installation of 10 license plate recognition cameras as part of a deal with Alabama Power. The utility will install and maintain the cameras at a monthly cost of $2,291.67 to the city.

The council passed the item unanimously but not without some public criticism. Keith O. Williams, a resident representing the community action group People’s Budget Birmingham, told councilors that his organization had written to all nine councilors Monday requesting a public hearing on the item but had received no response.

The group was concerned, Williams said, over “excessive use of funds for the police department” during a year in which the city is facing a significant revenue shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

Board of Education President Criticizes Woodfin’s Plan to Cut Funding for Birmingham Schools

Though she insisted that she was “absolutely not here in my professional capacity,” Birmingham School Board President Daagye Hendricks addressed the Birmingham City Council on Tuesday, calling Mayor Randall Woodfin’s proposed FY 2021 budget “egregious” for cutting funding to city schools.

This year’s city budget is nearly $50 million smaller than last year’s budget, thanks to a sharp decline in the city’s business tax revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the $412 million budget’s many proposed austerity measures — which include funding cuts for external organizations and furloughs for hundreds of city employees — is a reduction of $1 million in city funding to Birmingham City Schools.
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Budget Blows to Birmingham Schools and Transit Being Cushioned, Other Groups are Not as Lucky

Mayor Randall Woodfin defended some controversial cuts in his proposed FY 2021 budget Tuesday, arguing that, despite a significant drop in city funding, both Birmingham City Schools and the Birmingham-Jefferson Transit Authority would continue to operate as usual. Much of the money they lost will be made up by funds from elsewhere.

Many other groups, including the library system, zoo and Railroad Park, are facing much bigger consequences. Read more.

Woodfin’s Budget Features Pay Cuts, Furloughs and Funding Reductions

As promised, Mayor Randall Woodfin’s proposed FY 2021 budget is austere, thanks to financial pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The budget, which had been delayed by three months so that the city could calculate the extent of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus, includes salary reductions for the mayor and his appointees, furloughs for hundreds of city employees and reductions in funding to several entities.

But it continues funding for many of Woodfin’s signature issues, including neighborhood revitalization and the city’s long-underfunded pension.
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Birmingham to Pursue Tax-Credit Plan to Aid Development in Low-Income Communities

The Birmingham City Council approved on Tuesday the creation of the Birmingham Region Community Investment Cooperative District, a new legal entity designed to apply for and allocate federal new markets tax credits (NMTC).

This new organization will combine the efforts of the City of Birmingham, the Downtown Redevelopment Authority and the Commercial Development Authority in pursuing the tax credits, which can be allocated to fund small businesses and real estate development in low-income communities.
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Birmingham Council OKs Al Fresco Dining as Hail Mary for Restaurants

Birmingham restaurants will now be able to use sidewalks and parking spaces for outdoor dining, the City Council decided Tuesday. The decision, described by District 2 Councilor Hunter Williams as a “Hail Mary from the mayor’s staff,” is intended to give restaurants greater seating capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.