By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham City Council heard “loud and clear” what the citizens wanted for their neighborhoods, said President Johnathan Austin, as the council concludes a post 2016 budget tour this week.
“They want us to continue what the council has done, which is to ensure that as many resources that the city has available are directed to our neighborhoods, which have the most pressing needs,” Austin said.
Austin said he wants residents to know that the city’s $425 million-dollar budget will be used towards quality neighborhoods, education and public safety.
That’s been the goal of the tours that have made several stops around the city beginning Sept. 19 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church at 980 Huffman Road.
The tours took place at four locations throughout the city over a two-week span.
“In the post-budget tour we’re taking that information back to the community and showing them that not only did we listen to them, we took action to make sure that we have continued to work on having cleaner neighborhoods, safer communities, and supporting our school system,” he said.
The 2016 budget was crafted from comments heard from citizens during pre-budget tours, Austin said.
“Now it is time for us to return back to our communities to detail how the funding will be used to resolve our city’s most pressing issues,” he said. “It is my hope that in addition to educating the public, these tours will also give us the opportunity to gain feedback from the public on what we can do to keep them updated on the progress that’s being made throughout the year.”
The tour is one of the many ways the City Council is striving to be transparent, he added.
“We’re doing everything we can to communicate what’s going on at City Hall to our constituents,” Austin said. “We’re doing that via social media, our website, and every week on Tuesdays at our city council meetings.”
Austin said the council was happy to address concerns such as overgrown lots, abandoned homes, unpaved streets and crumbling sidewalks, security and parks in the neighborhoods.
“We raise these issues every week” at City Hall, Austin told the residents during the meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. “But we need you all to come down there and help us; we need you to come down to City Hall and advocate for us.”
He also informed the audience about economic zones that the City Council is looking at.
“We have economic development zones and we want to identify neighborhoods in our communities, like North Birmingham, and we should be able to target the money for businesses in that zone,” he said.