Category: City of Birmingham

Delta Strikes Birmingham Public Works, but Mayor Says the City Will Get to Your Trash

Approximately 10% of Birmingham’s public works employees have tested positive for COVID-19, causing delays in city services such as trash pickup and grass cutting. Mayor Randall Woodfin, who recently required masks to be worn on city property, urged residents to get the vaccine and asked for patience while public works employees continue to catch up on their work. Read more.

Birmingham Council Passes the City’s Largest Budget Ever

The Birmingham City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve Mayor Randall Woodfin’s FY 2022 budget, making no changes to the proposal presented to them in May.

The $455.5 million budget is the city’s largest to date, indicating a predicted recovery from COVID-19’s impact on last year’s revenues. Woodfin has emphasized that the budget shows the city’s commitment to its employees, including a restoration of merit raises and longevity pay; and its allocations to neighborhood revitalization, including millions for street paving, blight demolition and weed abatement.

The budget does not include the $74 million in federal relief funding from the American Rescue Plan that the city received last month; it will receive a further $74 million next May.

Woodfin told reporters last month that the budget “doesn’t have any pain points” compared to the previous year, which had seen the city reduce or zero out its contributions to various external organizations, including the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Railroad Park Foundation and Alabama Symphony.

Those organizations were restored to their FY 2020 funding with the new budget, with two notable exceptions. The Birmingham Zoo and Rickwood Field were still allocated COVID-reduced funding — $500,000 for the zoo, down from FY 2020’s $1.9 million; and $50,000 to Rickwood, down from FY 2020’s $150,211. Read more.

Birmingham Elections Begin Officially as Candidates File Qualifying Papers

UPDATED — Though many campaigns already are well underway, June 25 marked the official start of the qualifying period for Birmingham’s 2021 municipal elections.

Candidates will have until July 9 to officially add their name to the Aug. 24 ballot, which will include the city’s mayoral, city council and school board races. Voters have until Aug. 9 to register to vote.

So far, four of the eight declared mayoral candidates have officially filed to run: incumbent Mayor Randall Woodfin, former Mayor William A Bell, businessman Chris Woods and philanthropist Cerissa A. Brown.

Community activists Philemon Hill and Darryl Williams also have announced runs for the seat, as has Jefferson County Commissioner and former Birmingham City Councilor Lashunda Scales. Birmingham resident Juanita Jones has also filed preliminary paperwork to run for the seat, though she has not yet officially qualified.

Woodfin turned his qualification into a miniature campaign event, hosting a press conference on the steps of the Jefferson County Courthouse shortly after filing his statement of candidacy. “I don’t want anybody to think we’ve just got this in the bag,” he told supporters. “I don’t want to get anyone to get comfortable,” he said.

As qualifying opened, several new faces joined council races: Don D. Scott in District 2, Roshanique Yvette Taylor in District 5, La’Toya Lee in District 7 and D. Denise Webber-Jenkins in District 8.

See the lists of candidates who have filed qualifying papers and candidates who have announced they are running for Birmingham city offices.

Birmingham Promise Gets $8 Million Boost From Private Companies

The Birmingham Promise educational initiative has received $8 million in donations from local corporations, Mayor Randall Woodfin announced Tuesday.

That number includes $5 million from Birmingham-based investment firm Vulcan Value Partners — the program’s largest private donation to date. It also includes $1 million each from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and Protective Life, as well as from
Alabama Power, which donated for the second consecutive year.

Birmingham Promise offers juniors and seniors in city schools paid internships, dual enrollment opportunities and scholarships to two- or four-year public colleges. Read more.

Woodfin Won’t Resign in Controversy Over Police Shooting

Mayor Randall Woodfin said he will not resign despite Black Lives Matter Birmingham’s calls for him to do so following last month’s police killing of Desmon Montez Ray Jr.

Ray, 28, was killed by police on Easter Sunday as they responded to a domestic dispute call in north Birmingham. After a chase, officers say Ray fired a gun at police as he exited his vehicle; they returned fire, killing him.

After criticism from Ray’s family and local activists, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick D. Smith released three videos — from officers’ body cameras and a neighbor’s security camera — showing the shooting.

On Monday, Black Lives Matter Birmingham called the release of the videos “unacceptable.” Read more.

Birmingham Agrees to Sell Old Ensley High to Be Redeveloped as 244-Unit Housing

Plans are moving forward to redevelop the former Ensley High School property as a 244-unit housing development. The Birmingham City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday selling the campus, which has been abandoned since 2006, to the North Carolina-based Zimmerman Properties for $50,000.

The city also will provide incentives for the project in the form of a grant of up to $1.5 million, some of which will come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Home Investment Partnerships Program. Read more.

Local, Federal Officials Launch Partnership to Reduce Gun Violence in Birmingham

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin launched a collaborative effort with federal and local law enforcement agencies to put an end to the city’s growing gun violence problem. The partnership, announced Friday, imposes stiff penalties for people who have unauthorized guns. Officials called on the community to help make the city safer by providing information on people who may be involved in criminal activity. Read more.