All In a Day’s Work: An Inside Look at What All is Required of Birmingham City Councilors
PRESS RELEASE Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Contact: Brittany Sharp
BIRMINGHAM, AL – Every Tuesday, Birmingham City Councilors come together to vote on issues pertinent to the city. While this regular meeting may seem like a minor task to some, this item is just one of the items of a long rolling list that councilors are required to tackle each week. What’s not shown during that meeting is their ongoing task list for each of the nine districts. As local legislators, councilmembers are responsible for and responsive to the citizens who elected them. Councilors authorize the following functions to include, but not limited too:
- Review and approve the annual budget;
- Establish long- and short-term objectives and priorities;
- Oversee effectiveness of programs;
- Establish tax rates;
- Authorize the Mayor to enter into legal contracts;
- Float Bonds;
- Pass ordinances and resolutions;
- Modify the city’s charter;
- Regulate land use through zoning laws;
- Regulate business activity through licensing and regulations;
- Regulate public health and safety;
- Exercise the power of eminent domain;
- Communicate policies and programs to residents;
- Respond to constituent needs and complaints; and
- Represent the community to other levels of government.
All of these functions require committee vetting’s, which entail volumes of information to digest in order to responsibly address the matter.
Additionally councilors are required to attend weekly committee meetings, neighborhood meetings, and meetings with other elected officials and business leaders. Those meetings alone can add up to well over 40 hours a week. Knowing this and looking at cities in comparable size to Birmingham, City Councilors are putting new measures in place to ensure that the appropriate salaries are in place as the city continues to grow. The Birmingham City Council recently voted to increase salaries of City Councilors to $50,000 with $10,000 of that being for expenses, bringing total compensation to $60,000 per year. This change will not go into effect until 2017 after the newly elected officials have taken office.
“We’ve done a lot of research on this topic to get a better understanding of how our neighboring municipalities were compensating their councilors. What we found is that as cities continue to expand so does the work in each district thus more hours are needed by the district council member,” Council President Austin said. “We want to make sure that the next group of elected officials have all the tools to be able to move this city forward and part of that includes proper salaries.”
The 2017 raise will be the first raise for the Council since 1997. In 1994, the State Legislature passed a bill allowing the Council’s wages to be raised up to $15,000. Following this resolution the Birmingham City Council passed another ordinance to increase council members salaries following the 1997 election. In 2008, House Bill 341 was passed by the State Legislature allowing the Council wages to be raised with no cap 6 months prior to the incoming council. This bill allowed the Mayor’s wages to be increased by $40,000. Up until now, the Council has yet to take action on an increase in their salary.
For media inquiries please contact the Birmingham City Council Director of Public Information Brittany Sharp at 205.254.2036 or firstname.lastname@example.org