Birmingham City Council

Pay Raises, Recreation Areas Provided Under Woodfin’s Budget Surplus Plan

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin speaks to the City Council, 1/31/23 (Source: Council Facebook livestream)

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to unanimously approve Mayor Randall Woodfin’s plans for spending the city’s $81 million budget surplus, with money allocated to a cost-of-living adjustment for city employees, capital improvement for parks and libraries, and funding for a new amphitheater in the city’s Uptown entertainment district.

The $81 million surplus is from the 2022 fiscal year, which ended June 30. Woodfin said that the money came from a “significant” increase in sales tax revenue. That’s the same reason he gave for last spring’s $53.4 million budget surplus, which went toward a 5% raise for city employees and an overhaul of the city’s trash collection program.

This year’s cost-of-living adjustment for city employees also will be 5%, which will total about $13.5 million. Coupled with last spring’s adjustment, that is a 10% raise in one year, Woodfin said. “We will continue to take the necessary investments in our employees, and this is our way of saying, ‘Thank you for being on the front lines to provide services to all the citizens of Birmingham.’”

The city also will spend $2.45 million of its surplus to hire 37 new fire and rescue service personnel, as well as $8 million in vehicle fleet upgrades.

Much of the remaining surplus will be focused on capital improvements to city libraries ($3.6 million) and park and recreation centers ($4.4 million), Legion Field ($4 million) and Rickwood Field ($2 million). Up to $15 million will be spent on design of a “family fun center” at the Birmingham CrossPlex, which will include a bowling alley, skating rink, jump park, eSports facilities and a food court.

“These infrastructure investments are necessary because these are convening places for our families, for our children,” Woodfin said.

The city will also contribute $5 million to the BJCC’s planned amphitheater in the city’s Uptown entertainment district. Woodfin called the amphitheater the “last piece” of the district, which “has the opportunity to be very transformational (and) a net win for the area.” The city isn’t the BJCC’s only funding partner for the $50 million project; the Jefferson County Commission is also mulling a $5 million allocation to the project.

Additional funds from the surplus will go toward sidewalk repairs ($600,000), weed abatement ($1.25 million) and the city’s legal claim fund ($750,000).