Category: City of Birmingham

Woodfin Schedules Oct. 1 Hearing on Birmingham Police Reforms

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has set an Oct. 1 hearing to discuss proposed police reforms.

The event is the culmination of a 90-day review by the public safety task force, a seven-member group appointed earlier this year to assess Birmingham Police Department policies. The task force also is requesting public input, inviting interested individuals to submit written or video proposals for new public safety policies.
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Library Board Furloughs 158 Workers Because of Budget Cuts

In a Friday afternoon emergency meeting, the Birmingham Public Library board of trustees voted unanimously to furlough 158 of the system’s 211 employees. The cutbacks were a response to city budget cuts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to Mayor Randall Woodfin’s recommendation to cut the library’s budget to less than half of last year’s amount.

The furloughs will be effective Sept. 25. Of the 158 furloughed employees, 91 are full-time and 67 are part-time employees.

Most of Friday afternoon’s meeting took place in a 90-minute, private executive session. The board did not reveal which employees would be furloughed or which library branches would be closed as a result. Read more.

Woodfin’s Revised Library Budget Lower Than Expected, With $3.6M Remaining Until June 30

The Birmingham Public Library now has its operating budget for fiscal year 2021 — and it’s much lower than expected, which means “tough decisions” lie ahead for the BPL board of trustees.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, trustees lamented the “moving target” they’d been given by Mayor Randall Woodfin’s office. The city’s overall budget has been greatly reduced as a result of reduced business tax revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The library first had been allocated $12.8 million in Woodfin’s proposed FY 2021 budget, which was bumped up shortly afterward to $15.3 million, bringing it roughly even with its operating budget from this year. Then, board members said, their city attorney had given them a third number that was less than half of that — $7.039 million.

The real number, Woodfin told board members and city councilors during a “last-minute” informational call Wednesday, is even less than that. The library’s total budget in his recommendation for FY 2021 is $6.2 million, he said — and it’s spent $2.6 million of that since July.

“I want everybody to hear it at the same time,” Woodfin says in a recording of the call obtained by BirminghamWatch. “Your remaining budget you have from October 1 to June 30 is $3.6 million — not a dollar more.” Read more.

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.

Furloughs on Hold, but Maybe Not for Long

Earlier this month, employees of several city-owned entities — including the Birmingham Public Library and the Birmingham Parks and Recreation Board, among others — received letters from Mayor Randall Woodfin’s office informing them that they would be furloughed.

Now, they’re being told to ignore that furlough letter — but another one might be coming.

“The letter is now moot,” said Cedric Sparks, Woodfin’s chief of staff, during a teleconference with Birmingham employees on Friday, responding to a question specifically focused on library employees. “The letter that you have received, please disregard that letter. Your next letter will come directly from the library board.”

However, the mayor’s office also announced that it had raised funding for libraries and parks in a revised budget proposal. Read more.

City Notifies Birmingham Library Employees of Furloughs; Library Board President Contests City Authority

Are Birmingham Public Library employees being furloughed? It depends on whom you’re asking.

Most BPL employees have received letters from the city of Birmingham telling them they will be placed on unpaid leave starting Sept. 12.

“You should not report to work after this date until such time further notice is given that normal operations can resume,” reads the letter, signed by Mayor Randall Woodfin and city Human Resources Director Jill Madajczyk and dated Aug. 18.

Multiple BPL employees have confirmed that almost all of the BPL’s 230 staffers have received a furlough letter.

However, in a letter dated two days later, library board of trustees President Eunice Johnson Rogers told employees to disregard the furlough letter and continue going to work because the decision about furloughs is up to the board. She also told the Birmingham City Council Tuesday that no decision has been made to furlough employees. “To date, the BPL Board of Trustees has not closed any branches or furloughed any employees,” she said. Read more.

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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