2015 Birmingham budget
The 2014-2015 Birmingham budget includes the operating budget for the City of Birmingham for the fiscal year July 1, 2014–June 30, 2015 as well as a capital projects budget. The operating budget was submitted by Mayor William Bell on May 13, 2014. After weeks of discussion and compromise, a budget bill was passed by the Birmingham City Council on June 10.
The mayor's proposed $393.16 million budget projected a 2.3% increase in revenues from 2014, which ended the year, after amendments, at $384.17 million (including an $13 million deficit covered by the Birmingham Fund reserve account). The increase in projected revenues included an $8 million gain in business taxes and $6 million in increased sales tax collections.
Highlights from the 2015 spending plan included a 5% merit raise and a tuition reimbursement program for city employees, costing $2.5 million. Bell proposed increasing funding to his own office from $7.97 million to $9.22 million and for the Department of Information, Management and Technology (IMS) from $10.38 million to $13.61 million, including the purchase of new equipment.
Bell's budget reduced the city's payment to the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority by $1.8 million from the 2014 fiscal year after determining that the city had been overpaying for the service. BJCTA director Ann August disputed those calculations and lobbied the Council to restore funding to the same level.
The City Council held a series of four public hearings in preparation for its budget deliberations. The sessions were held at North Birmingham Library on May 7, at Regions Field on May 15, at the Birmingham CrossPlex on May 19, at Birmingham City Hall on May 21, and at Don Hawkins Park on May 29.
At its third work session, the City Council resolved by a narrow margin to eliminate the planned pay raises for city employees and restore funding for mass transit. Councilors Austin, Abbott, Hoyt, Lundy and Parker voted with the majority while Rafferty, Roberson, Scales and Tyson opposed.
News of the resolution angered members of the Birmingham Police Department. Birmingham Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 president David Crews complained that the Council was "funding their pet projects on our dime," and promised a fight. Likewise Birmingham Firefighters Association president Don Baker reminded the Council that merit raises are part of the pledge made to recruits.
A compromise budget that restored the 5% merit raises and funds the BJCTA at 2014 levels while applying across-the-board cuts to city departments was passed by a 7-1 vote on June 10. The resulting plan projects a $3.9 million deficit to be covered by the Birmingham Fund.
Among the allocations to non-profits in the final budget was $725,000 from the general fund for REV Birmingham.
- Bryant, Joseph D. (May 7, 2014) "Taking the show on the road: Birmingham City Council presenting series of forums on upcoming budget." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (May 15, 2014) "Number crunching: Birmingham Mayor presents budget proposal for city's 2015 fiscal year." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (June 5, 2014) "Birmingham City Council saves transit funding, kills employee raises for 2015." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (June 6, 2014) "Will there be an outbreak of Blue Flu in Birmingham? City employees 'sick' over council's plan to slash raises." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (June 10, 2014) "It's finally over: Birmingham City Council approves budget, grants raises, funds transit." The Birmingham News
- Operating Budget 2015 at birminghamal.gov