Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Tuesday presented the Birmingham City Council with the largest proposed budget in the city’s history, with a cost of living increase for city workers and more than $14 million toward neighborhood revitalization efforts.
The proposed $455 million budget includes $10 million for street paving, $3.15 million for demolition and weed abatement, $300,000 for a recycling pilot program and $275,000 to make more sidewalks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“We stand at a moment of recovery and restoration,” Woodfin said. “This budget represents our shared priorities of neighborhood revitalization and fiscal responsibility with an eye toward investing in our future through proven initiatives like Birmingham Promise. This plan supports our departments’ efforts to provide efficient and effective services to the residents of our city.”
The proposed budget predicts the city will take in approximately 7 percent, or $33.4 million, more in General Fund revenues than the city received in the amended 2021 budget.
The city’s police department would get $4.7 million less than the amended 2021 budget, and a drop in staffing by 22 positions, while the fire department would receive $1.9 million more in 2022, and an additional 8 employees, according to the proposed budget.
The police department’s budget and staffing reductions are a reflection of accounting shifts, and not actual cuts to the department’s funding, explained Rick Journey, spokesman for the city, in a response to APR on Tuesday.
Journey said in a message that non-sworn security guards were moved into the police department budget in FY2021, but that a decision has been made to return those positions back to the various departments where they have been assigned. Doing so both reduced the department’s budget and staffing numbers, Journey said.
“Technology contracts for the police department were moved to IMS from a management standpoint. It makes more sense for Information Management Services to handle those agreements and services on behalf of the police department,” Journey said.
Woodfin’s office in a press release notes that the proposed budget restores full funding to boards and agencies partnered with the city, which, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, saw city funding reduced.
“This fiscal year represents restoration and growth. This will be a year of unprecedented investment in our city both from the public and private sectors,” Woodfin said. “In addition to this operating budget, the city will be moving forward on a separate track with the Magic City Recovery supported by the funds provided through the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan. I look forward to continued partnership with the council as we take the steps to transform our city.”