City of Birmingham

No Toys Under Birmingham’s Budget Tree Next Year, Woodfin Says

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin (Source: Sam Prickett)

On Tuesday, Mayor Randall Woodfin will unveil his proposed FY 2020 budget to the Birmingham City Council.

It will follow this year’s $436 million budget, the city’s largest ever and the first that the Woodfin administration had overseen from the ground up. That budget implemented a new “zero-based” strategy, which meant that appropriations were based on need rather than the previous year’s budget.

In March, Woodfin compared the FY 2020 budget to a “need-only Christmas,” where socks, not toys, are the gifts. “That’s how this budget’s going to be,” he said. “It’s going to be lean. If it’s not focused on basic services and infrastructure and pensions, everything else is a distant third priority.”

Woodfin said in November that the city’s unfunded pension liability stands at about $378 million — which means that the city will need to contribute that much more to the pension fund than it already does to prevent it from running out of money. Under this year’s budget, the pension fund increased by $2.9 million; an estimated $10 million to $12 million still needs to be added to the city’s annual pension payments.

What else can be expected from next year’s budget?

“We’re going to put $1 million into apprenticeships,” Woodfin told the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange earlier this month. “We’re going to put $1 million into scholarship opportunities. We’re going to put $1 million into full support services around families. We’re going to put millions into blight removal. We’re going to put $8 million into paving streets. I could go on and on.”

The FY 2020 budget will be presented to the City Council on May 14 at 9:30 a.m.