2019 Birmingham budget

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The 2018-2019 Birmingham budget includes the operating budget for the City of Birmingham for the fiscal year July 1, 2018June 30, 2019 as well as a capital projects budget.

Mayor Randall Woodfin publicized "highlights" from his budget proposal at a meeting of the Birmingham City Council on April 25, 2018. After an agreement was reached on several modifications, the Council passed the revised budget, totaling $436,126,771.00, on June 19.

In March 2020 Finance Director Lester Smith reported that revenues had exceeded expectations for fiscal 2019 by approximately $16.3 million, led by business license fees and occupational and lodging taxes. He recommended investing the surplus in deferred maintenance, vehicles, and information infrastructure.

Woodfin's proposed budget

Woodfin proposed an operating budget of $436 million, an $8 million (1.87%) increase over the $428 million 2017-2018 budget which was approved for 2017-2018 on December 12, 2017.

According to his April 25 presentation, Woodfin's budget includes a 1% cost of living adjustment for city employees and an increase in contributions to the city's pension fund. The cost of these would be offset by eliminating 133 unfilled positions and reducing overtime costs. He proposed to invest in a preventative maintenance program as part of an overhaul of operations and to require budgets and audits from all city-funded boards and agencies.

Additional funds for neighborhood revitalization would support the demolition of unsafe structures, more weed abatement, better street cleaning, and the expansion of street lighting, ShotSpotter and other public safety infrastructure. Woodfin also proposed a "Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity" and a Neighborhood Revitalization Fund to support economic activity at the neighborhood level.

Woodfin's proposal offset the planned investment in neighborhoods with the elimination of discretionary funding given to individual neighborhood associations. He also reduced or eliminated funding for numerous agencies and independent organizations that have provided services to the city under contract, including REV Birmingham, the Birmingham Sister City Commission, and Bridge Ministries. In some cases, those agencies rely on the city's funds to qualify for federal grants. Woodfin's office later explained that funding for economic development services, while not budgeted as direct outlays, may still be available for specific contracts.

Council deliberations

The Birmingham City Council held a public hearing on the budget proposal on the evening of Monday, May 14.

Negotiations

On June 11 Woodfin met with members of the City Council to discuss the budget. In response to public concerns he restored funding for neighborhood associations and restored city funding for the Vulcan Park Foundation, Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, the McWane Science Center, and Red Mountain Theater to 2018 levels. He also increased the allocation to Rickwood Field and pledged to include funding for the Birmingham Sister Cities Commission in his own Mayor's office budget.

Left out was pledged city bond funds for the continuation of a five-year repaving project begun under Bell's administration, which Woodfin described as an "unfunded mandate," citing the lack of capital funds remaining from the 2012 Birmingham bond issue, in which voters approved $48.7 million for paving and resurfacing of streets. Priority projects will continue with state and federal funding.

Passage

The City Council passed the revised budget by an 8-0 vote during their regular meeting on June 19. Lashunda Scales was not present for the vote.

References

External links