Category: Birmingham City Council
The Birmingham City Council on Wednesday approved spending $1 million from its General Fund on a small business loan program designed to help small businesses struggling with the impact of COVID-19. The money is in addition to $200,000 put in the program fund Tuesday from the city’s innovation and economic opportunity fund. Read more.
A “shelter in place” ordinance is now in effect in Birmingham. The order, passed by the City Council Tuesday evening, is intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by effectively instituting a curfew on all residents — with numerous exceptions.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the ordinance was intended to address those who were not in compliance with the city’s previous recommendations. “A lot of people are treating this as a vacation,” he said. “This is not a vacation. … We need to now pivot from recommendation to full enforcement if the ultimate goal is to save lives.”
There are numerous exceptions outlined in the ordinance — notably for people seeking “essential services or commodities;” public safety officials and first responders; utility, cable, and telecommunications companies; federal, state, county or city government employees; and the homeless. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council has approved the first part of funding for a small business loan program designed to help small businesses struggling with the impact of COVID-19. The program, which was approved in concept last week, would provide eligible small businesses with up to $25,000 in interest-free, 180-day loans. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council will vote next Tuesday on an ordinance that would provide emergency loans to certain small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — but the program will need additional votes next week to take effect.
The loan program would allocate nearly $1.2 million to revenue-generating small businesses affected by the novel coronavirus; individual businesses would be eligible for up to $25,000 in loans, with an anticipated average of $10,000 per business. The funding would come largely from the city’s general fund, which would contribute $1 million; the remaining $200,000 would be provided by the city’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity.
“Part of what we have to do is bridge small businesses into a new economic environment in what is really a turbulent time,” Dr. Josh Carpenter, the city’s director of innovation and opportunity, told the council Tuesday morning. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council quietly restructured its committee system Tuesday, voting without discussion to institute several leadership changes and to split the Administration and Education Committee in two.
The changes were spearheaded by William Parker, who took over as council president in October. Parker added the new lineup to Tuesday’s meeting agenda as a last-minute addendum, handing out paper copies of the assignments just before the vote was called. “Just make sure we pass that,” he said to the council. Councilors appeared to be studying the list intently up until the moment of the vote. Read more.
The city of Birmingham will continue the practice of spraying for mosquitoes, despite vehement objection from two city councilors.
Questions have been raised about the effectiveness of spraying, as well as possible dangers to people and the environment from the chemicals. Read more.
Mayor Randall Woodfin announced Tuesday that three corporate foundations — Alabama Power, Altec/Styslinger and Regions — have each committed $1 million to the new Birmingham Promise educational initiative.
The Birmingham Promise initiative initially was approved as part of the city’s FY 2020 budget, funded with $2 million taken from the city’s allocation to Birmingham City Schools. The program is planned to offer juniors and seniors in city schools paid internships and dual enrollment opportunities, as well as offering graduates the opportunity to attend in-state two-year or four-year public colleges tuition-free.
The $3 million in corporate contributions announced Tuesday will go “a long way” toward the tuition assistance side of the Birmingham Promise, Woodfin said. Read more.
Walt Gibbons, director the public works department, said the goal for starting a pilot program is April 1, and it is set to last for six months. Read more.
Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales came across Linn Park today to speak to the Birmingham City Council, pleading for help for what she said are rising instances of crime in the East Precinct. Read more.
UPDATED — Birmingham City Councilman Darrell O’Quinn completed a 2-year journey Tuesday with the passage of an ordinance that sets the stage for companies that provide rental scooters and bikes or other personal transportation vehicles to operate in the city.
After discussion and then a delay on the vote until the end of the meeting, the ordinance passed unanimously.
“As chairman of the transportation committee, one of the first committee meetings I had actually was inviting in mobility providers to tell us how they operate,” O’Quinn said. “We have been watching this industry unfold and evolve across the country, observing some of the missteps that were made, trying to make sure we don’t encounter the same pitfalls here.”