By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday approved spending $60.4 million on parks and recreation, libraries and other neighborhood improvements from an $81.3 million surplus in the city tax revenue.
About $20.6 million of the surplus will remain in the city’s fund balance reserve.
The money approved Tuesday includes:
–$41.9 million in previously identified spending, including $5 million toward a downtown amphitheater
–$9.7 for neighborhood improvements
–$8 million for city vehicle fleet upgrades
–$750,000 for the city’s legal claims fund
Mayor Randall Woodfin said investment in the myriad public spaces is important for families.
“These updates, these upgrades, these infrastructure investments are necessary because these are convenient places…for our children, for families as it relates to libraries, rec centers and parks, so I’m grateful for the City Council for their unanimous vote on that,” Woodfin said.
The mayor added that his administration’s responsible budgeting process saw savings while also a significant boost in tax revenue helped provide the $81 million surplus. “Our priority is to invest in our greatest strengths – our neighborhoods, our employees and our facilities,” he said.
Council President Wardine Alexander said the council was in “unanimous support of …the changes that we’ve provided to our parks, to our libraries and to our neighborhoods.”
A breakdown of the spending in neighborhoods includes $4.4 million is toward improvements for city parks and recreation centers and $3.4 million for city libraries.
Parks and Rec investments include $1 million to complete a drainage project at Caldwell Park in the Highland Park neighborhood and $250,000 each for an expansion of the Shades Creek walking trail and to complete an extension of the Ruffner Park trail.
Also, in the city’s FY23 budget, Woodfin set aside $1 million for a “Safe Haven” program, which has extended operating hours and programming at four rec centers throughout the city to provide healthy activities for children in the city after school hours.
Woodfin said Tuesday, there is an “opportunity to expand” the Safe Haven program but that he is waiting to hear more information from Birmingham Park and Recreation.
Under the $3.4 million to libraries, $1 million each is going toward foundation repairs for the North Avondale and Titusville libraries, while another $193,402 is going to repair water damage at the temporarily closed Ensley Library.
Top 5 library projects:
–$1,000,000 for North Avondale Library foundation work
–$1,000,000 for Titusville Library foundation work
–$370,000 for voice over IP phone line extension and installation at Central Library
–$274,500 for a skylight leak at Central Library
–$200,000 for renovation and window replacement at Smithfield Library
Top 5 parks and recreation projects:
$1,000,000 for drainage improvements at Caldwell Park
$401,000 to for doors, flooring and pool repairs at Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center
$350,000 for a roof replacement at Fitness Center North
$350,000 to replace pool piping at MacMahon (Harris) Pool
$347,000 for various repairs at East Pinson Valley Recreation Center
Previously announced spending
5% cost of living adjustment for city employees, $13.5 million
Rickwood Field improvements, $2 million
Legion Field improvements, $4 million
CrossPlex Village Family Fun Center $15 million
37 extra positions for Birmingham Fire and Rescue, $2.45