2009 Birmingham budget
The 2008-2009 Birmingham budget includes the operating budget for the City of Birmingham for the fiscal year July 1, 2008 - June 30, 2009 as well as a capital projects budget for the five years from 2008 to 2013. The operating budget was submitted by the Mayor's office on May 20, 2008 and, after weeks of debate, passed in its final form by the Birmingham City Council on July 15.
The 2009 budget as proposed and as passed, projects $428,950,000.00 in revenues and expenditures over the course of the year. That figure represents an increase of 30.5% over the 2007-2008 budget drafted by former Mayor Bernard Kincaid.
The Mayor's initial presentation to the City Council was made in the form of a video. During work sessions to review the details of the proposed budget, a majority of Council members agreed to delay funding for heritage streetcars and college scholarships for Birmingham City Schools graduates in order to fund raises for Public Works employees and to preserve funding for the redevelopment of Fair Park without sacrificing district-by-district discretionary funds promised in the Birmingham Economic and Community Revitalization Ordinance, passed in December 2007.
Mayor Langford objected to the council's proposed changes, saying that he did not want to get into a fight about it, but that he would not sign off on the changes and could wait until a new Council was installed to see progress happen. He accused council members of retaliating against him because he didn't hire certain people recommended to him by them. Later he told the press that he would simply not execute any project funded with money "taken" from his projects.
The process continued past the June 20 deadline for adopting a new budget. In the council's later work session President Smitherman proposed that approximately $90,000 saved by stopping overtime payments to council staff be used to raise the pay of 12 staffers. When it became evident that meeting the budgeted expenditures would reduce the city's reserve fund by $24.9 million, the council quickly eliminated several line items in order to reduce that amount, keeping $105 million in reserve to cover three months of operating expenses. Among the cuts were proposed Vision Scholarships for graduating seniors, laptops for middle schoolers, and $9 million in discretionary funds earmarked for individual Council districts. Most boards and agencies would see the same level of city funding from 2008, while some economic development programs and employee salaries would enjoy modest increases. The council decided to keep $1 million for planning of the proposed Heritage streetcars on the 18th Street corridor.
Most budget resolutions passed by a vote of 7-0 with Councilor Joel Montgomery absent due to surgery and Councilor Roderick Royal abstaining on all but the employee raises. Carol Duncan abstained from measures to adopt the debt service fund budget and to amend the Birmingham Water Works proceeds fund budget. The passage of the operational budget provoked cries of "Hallelujah" from both the mayor and Council president.
- $338.5 million from the same revenue streams as in previous years with an expected growth of 3.015%.
- $64 million in additional business license fees and sales tax collections approved for capital projects in the Birmingham Economic and Community Revitalization Ordinance. Because those projects will not begin until 2009, the revenues are applied for this year only to the operational budget.
- $24.5 million is expected to remain as a surplus from the 2008 Birmingham budget at the end of the fiscal year.
- $8 million in budgeted expenditures for salaries is expected to be recouped by not filling those positions and is counted here as revenue.
- $500,000 remains from a $70 million fund created by the sale of Birmingham Water Works property in 2000.
- $86.4 million for the Birmingham Police Department (including pay raises)
- $64.2 million for the Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service (including pay raises)
- $20 million toward the Fair Park redevelopment project
- $15 million to replace BJCTA bus fleet and begin work to put Heritage streetcars downtown.
- $9 million for planning for the domed stadium
- $3 million for Vision Scholarships
- $2.4 million for Birmingham schools XO laptops
No capital budget was submitted by the mayor's office.
- Bryant, Joseph D. (May 21, 2008) "Mayor Langford presents budget, says fiscal restraint needed." The Birmingham News
- Whitmire, Kyle (May 22, 2008) "Langford budget lacks capital." Birmingham Weekly
- Bryant, Joseph D. (June 6, 2008) "Mayor accuses Birmingham City Council of personal vendetta over spending cuts." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (July 6, 2008) "Birmingham council to meet again, resolve budget issues." The Birmingham News
- Wolfson, Hannah (July 14, 2008) "Birmingham council cuts discretionary fund, laptops, other items from draft budget." The Birmingham News
- Stock, Erin (July 15, 2008) "Birmingham council approves budget." The Birmingham News
- Natta, André (July 15, 2008) "On the agenda: council approves 2009 budget." The Terminal
- Stock, Erin (July 16, 2008) "$428.9 million budget passes to `hallelujahs'." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (February 22, 2009) "Birmingham, Alabama budget shows shortfall but is expected to rebound by April." The Birmingham News
- Proposed Operating Budget FY 2009 at birminghamal.gov