Birmingham mayor proposes historic $455M budget, COVID bonuses for employees
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin made history earlier this month when his office presented a $455-million budget proposal to the city council. The mayor's 2022 fiscal plan represents the largest in Birmingham's 150-year history.
With a focus on neighborhood revitalization, rebuilding city infrastructure, and providing pay increases for city employees, Woodfin's budget aims to close some of the pandemic-related financial gaps created for the city and its citizens. Among the budget's many allocations, the plan includes financial commitments to restore funding for city-related agencies and boards—both lost funding in the city's 2021 operating budget as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
“We stand at a moment of recovery and restoration,” said Woodfin at a press conference announcing the funding plan. “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 2022 proposal includes more than $14 million for neighborhood revitalization. Those funds include:
Street Resurfacing: $10 million
Demolition and Weed Abatement: $3.15 million
Land Bank Authority: $300,000
Recycling Pilot Program: $300,000
ADA Sidewalks: $275,000
Woodfin called the proposed budget a representation of “restoration and growth” for the coming year.
“This will be a year of unprecedented investment in our city both from the public and private sectors. 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.”
On Friday, Woodfin issued a message to city employees announcing a coming bonus and praising their commitment to keeping the city running amid pandemic-related challenges.
“No matter the challenge, your continued service and commitment to the City of Birmingham has never wavered,” said Woodfin. “You worked through unforeseen obstacles, constantly adjusted and adapted, and maintained the high level of service that our community expects. For that, I speak for our community when I say we’re grateful.”
“I’m very happy to announce that as part of the Magic City Recovery Plan, which is funded through the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan of 2021, we will recommend full time employees with the City of Birmingham receive a one-time premium payment of $5,000 for their continued service during this pandemic. Part time employees with the City of Birmingham will receive a one-time premium payment of $2,500 for their continued service during this pandemic.”
According to mayor's missive, Alabama's largest city will also be buying out vacation days for its employees.
“The city is developing a voluntary buy-out program of excess vacation hours for eligible employees,” Woodfin explained. "The program will be offered only to individuals who were limited or prohibited from taking vacation during calendar year 2020. The buy-out will only be applicable to hours in excess of 320 hours (or 424 hours for 24-hour firefighter positions).
"While we have proposed an operating budget that provides a cost-of-living raise, merit and longevity pay and a fully funded pension, we want to do more,” concluded the mayor.
Woodfin has not been shy about sharing his optimism for the city's future.
“Everything’s brought back to pre-COVID,” Woodfin told reporters covering the budget press conference. “Libraries are made whole. Boards and agencies are made whole.”
Despite the mayor's high hopes, the proposed budget and planned bonuses for Birminhgam's employees must be approved by the city council. Under Woodfin's tenure, the council has approved each of his annually proposed budgets.
The City of Birmingham will hold a virtual public budget hearing on June 1.
The city’s new fiscal year begins July 1, 2021.
The budget is publicly available at the following link: www.birminghamal.gov/budget2022.