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Birmingham City Council approves 2021 budget

Mayor Randall Woodfin’s $412 million budget is almost 9 percent lower than the previous budget.

A view of downtown Birmingham.

The Birmingham City Council late Tuesday night approved Mayor Randall Woodfin’s budget for the city, hard-hit by COVID-19. 

Woodfin’s $412 million budget is almost 9 percent lower than the previous budget, and includes numerous cuts to staffing, including a hiring freeze, suspension of nine paid holidays, furloughs and salary cuts of between 3 percent and 10 percent for some workers.

The city projects a $63 million shortfall due to the pandemic, which has already resulted in a loss of $17 million caused by reductions in sales tax, use tax, occupational tax, lodging tax and business licenses, according to a press release from the city Wednesday morning. 

“This has been a budget of difficult choices. None of our decisions were taken lightly,” Woodfin said in a statement. “I want to thank the council for working with me to maintain critical, essential services for our residents with the revenue available to the city. The economic impact of COVID-19 has put every city in a similar position. Together, we will work through this crisis to revitalize our neighborhoods.”

Among city workers furloughed are 61 full-time and 23 part-time workers from culture and recreation facilities, and 91 full-time and 67 part-time library employees.

Those library workers were furloughed Friday, and the move prompted protests from some of those library workers and their supporters outside City Hall before the Council meeting on Sept. 22. 

Woodfin’s budget maintains the city’s FY2020 level of funding for street resurfacing, demolition, weed abatement and continues prioritizing increases to the city’s pension fund, according to the release. 

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In an effort to balance out losses due to the pandemic the city has also eliminated 444 vacant positions, suspended merit raises, cost of living adjustments and longevity pay. Woodfin himself also took a voluntary 10 percent pay cut. 

Both the city’s capital and operating budgets can be reviewed here.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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