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What’s Inside Mayor Woodfin’s Proposed $554 Million Budget for Birmingham

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By Ryan Michaels

The Birmingham Times

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Tuesday unveiled a proposed $554 million operating budget for fiscal 2024 with a focus on youth services, neighborhood revitalization and additional money for public transportation.

The total proposed budget is $554,805,617, with $464,375,563 in appropriations to city departments and a large increase in funding for street paving: $15 million, a $2.5 million increase from the current fiscal year.

The 2024 fiscal year begins July 1.

Woodfin said the investment in street resurfacing is part of his neighborhood revitalization pledge which remains his administration’s top priority.

“I am very pleased with the commitment we have made to street resurfacing. It is a priority for residents therefore it is a priority for me,” Woodfin said. “Over a five-year period, we have committed $60 million to street paving in our operating budgets. This work will continue.”

The budget provides funding for additional neighborhood revitalization efforts that include weed abatement, $2 million; demolition, $1 million; land bank, $500,000; traffic calming, $250,000 and sidewalks: $200,000.

Here’s a look at other highlights in the spending plan:

–Public transportation receives a significant boost with $11 million for the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority’s fixed route service; $3 million for the Birmingham Xpress bus rapid transit system; and $2.5 million for the Birmingham on Demand shared mobility service powered by VIA.

–Cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase for police and firefighters. This would follow two separate 5 percent COLAs provided for all employees since May 2022. In addition, the budget funds merit and longevity pay for employees. The city will cover the majority of an increase in health benefits cost for employees.

–Youth Services: Birmingham Promise, which supports juniors and seniors in Birmingham City Schools through apprenticeships and tuition support for higher education, will receive $2 million. The city schools will receive $1 million for mental health counselors and programs, $1 million for a financial literacy program; $1 million for a conflict resolution program, in partnership with city schools; $500,000 for the Safe Haven Program through the Parks and Recreation Department, $225,000 for the RESTORE juvenile re-entry program and $210,000 for the Kids and Jobs program through the Department of Youth Services

–Law Enforcement: The Birmingham Police Department will be appropriated $115.3 million, $3.2 million less than last year, though it’s still much more than the $99 million the police received in the FY 2022 budget. The budget for police remains flat, after accounting for an extra $2.7 million set aside for police overtime pay during the World Games last year, with 1,098 employees including 726 sworn officers.

Also, libraries will receive a slight budgetary increase, from $14.6 million last year to $15.5 million this year, while the parks and recreation department will receive $24.1 million this year compared to last year’s $21.6 million.

At $554 million, the proposed budget once again shows increased revenues of all types in the city, Woodfin said. “We are reaping the benefits of post-COVID” the mayor said, pointing to the construction of new venues like Protective Stadium and the improvements at places like Legacy Arena.

“There is a new football stadium that houses a lot of new things that are happening…Friday, Saturday, everything’s back except conventions, but they’re all back at a higher threshold than they were pre-COVID…If you take away conventions, everything is at a level I don’t think our city has seen before,” Woodfin said.

Woodfin’s proposed budget still has to be approved by the City Council before it takes effect. The council will hold a public budget hearing at the Boutwell Auditorium on June 5 at 5:30 p.m.

Woodfin’s proposed budget can be viewed online at www.birminghamal.gov/2024budget.