Woodfin’s budget proposal would be another record high
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin presented a $554 million dollar budget proposal for the 2024 fiscal year to the Birmingham City Council Tuesday morning, an increase of $37 million over the current budget. If passed, it would be the largest operating budget in Birmingham history.
Woodfin said the budget is focused on neighborhood revitalization and specifically touted $15 million for street paving.
“[It’s] something residents talk about every day. ‘I’m tired of this pothole. Pave my street. My street hasn’t been paved in 30 years,’” Woodfin said. “It’s a priority for residents, therefore it’s a priority to me.”
Woodfin says after making progress on removing blight such as abandoned buildings, his budget decreases the amount spent on demolition to $1 million. At the same time, that creates more overgrown lots prompting a doubling of the money for weed abatement to $2 million.
A total of $16.5 million is set aside for transit. That breaks down to $11 million to the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, $3 million to the Birmingham Xpress rapid transit system and $2.5 for the Via on-demand transit program.
“We’ve got to make sure people can get to work, get to their doctors appointments, get to school,” Woodfin said.
The budget includes funds for “traffic calming” measures, such as lights and signs to encourage drivers to slow down in residential areas. The city could match neighborhood funds for those efforts.
Police funding flat
The Birmingham Police Department would receive $115 million under the spending plan, which is functionally the same as last year’s appropriation, which at $118 million included $3 million in one-time overtime pay for The World Games.
The budget sets aside $500,000 for more cameras around the city which would be linked to its real-time crime center. It also includes funds for civilian analyst positions within the crime center.
Woodfin says police funding reflects a three-pronged strategy to fight crime of enforcement, prevention and re-entry from prison.
Police and fire workers would receive a 5% raise. Some other city workers would be eligible for a merit increase of 5% and others longevity pay. The budget sets aside roughly $53 million for two city pension programs, a priority for Woodfin.
The Birmingham Promise scholarship and apprenticeship program would receive $2 million. Another $1 million would go to place mental health professionals in each Birmingham City Schools building. The budget includes funds for conflict resolution and financial literacy programs.
Woodfin credited the increase in revenue, in part, to the new Protective Stadium and upgrades to Legacy Arena, which earlier this spring hosted opening rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. He said with the exception of convention business, the city is seeing more visitors and events than pre-pandemic. That drives sales and lodging taxes receipts.
“People want to be in our city, shop in our city, eat in our city, stay in our city, have fun in our city,” Woodfin said. “We’re winning on those things.”