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How a Cyberattack Nearly Derailed Birmingham’s $554 Million Proposed Budget for FY 2025

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Birmingham’s Mayor Randall Woodfin on Tuesday presented a $554 million fiscal 2025 proposed budget to the City Council which prioritized neighborhood revitalization, investments in youth, and public transportation. (File)

By Barnett Wright | The Birmingham Times

Months after the City of Birmingham’s computer systems were attacked, Mayor Randall Woodfin on Tuesday presented a proposed $554 million fiscal 2025 budget to the City Council which prioritized neighborhood revitalization, investments in youth, and public transportation.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.

Because of the hack, the proposed spending plan presented Tuesday is the same one approved last year by the Birmingham City Council. Finance officials were forced to miss several target dates over seven weeks and 11 dates within the budget schedule since the March 6 attack occurred.

That led the mayor’s administration on Tuesday to submit the budget from the current fiscal year “to ensure a seamless transition,” according to officials.

The new fiscal year begins July 1.

“We are proposing the general fund budget for the current fiscal year [2024] be submitted as the general fund budget for the upcoming 2025 fiscal year,” Woodfin said in his budget message.

“This recommendation will provide no interruptions to the operation of the city and provide a seamless transition from FY2024 to FY2025,” the mayor said. “Funding priorities for neighborhood revitalization, investments in our youth, and public safety will be supported through the existing budget.”

The proposed spending plan came after what city officials described as “unexpected activity” that disrupted certain computer systems on March 6, “including those used by the finance department to administer the budget process.”

AL.com reported in April that “multiple government sources” said the city was the victim of a ransomware attack, with hackers gaining access to the city’s computer systems and demanding payment for the city to get its data back.

On Tuesday, the city assured residents “at this time, there’s no sign of suspicious activity in the city’s systems. The city is working to bring all city systems online; however, full operability of certain systems may continue to be an ongoing process.”

With no changes from the current budget, “the mayor will move to amend the Fiscal Year 2025 budget to reflect adjustments based on shared priorities,” according to the city. “This will include considerations from neighborhoods, employees, departments, and boards and agencies.”

The Fiscal Year 2024/2025 spending plan includes:

  • Street resurfacing: $14.5 million
  • Weed abatement: $2 million
  • Demolition: $1 million
  • Land Bank: $500,000
  • Traffic calming: $250,000 (traffic calming includes physical measures to reduce vehicle speeds and increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists)
  • Sidewalks: $200,000

The budget invests in multiple youth initiatives. The Birmingham Promise will receive $2 million to support juniors and seniors in Birmingham City Schools through apprenticeships and tuition support for higher education. An additional $1 million will go to Birmingham City Schools for mental health support. In addition, $1 million each will continue for financial literacy and conflict resolution curriculums provided through a partnership with Birmingham City Schools.

Public transportation in the proposed budget includes $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.

The budget funds merit and longevity pay for eligible employees. Employees will see no out-of-pocket increases in healthcare costs, according to the mayor’s office.

“While this current budget process is unique, our focus will not waver from lifting up each neighborhood to realize the best version of Birmingham we can possibly be,” Woodfin said in his budget message. “We will continue to keep the City Council, the public and employees informed of the next steps in this process.”

Mayor Woodfin’s proposed budget under consideration by the Birmingham City Council can be viewed online at www.birminghamal.gov/budget2025.