Birmingham City Council to Hold Public Hearing Today on Proposed Changes to Mayor-Council Act
PRESS RELEASE Thursday, March 17, 2016
Contact: Brittany Sharp
BIRMINGHAM, AL – The Birmingham City Council will hold a public hearing TODAY, March 17, giving the citizens of Birmingham an opportunity to voice their concerns regarding two proposed state bills that will amend the Mayor-Council Act and fundamentally change the City of Birmingham’s governmental structure. The public hearing will be held at City Hall in the Council Chambers at 6 pm. Mayor William Bell, Sr. has also been invited by the Council to participate in today’s public hearing.
Currently, House Bill 399, sponsored by Representative Oliver Robinson (D-Birmingham), will essentially allow Mayor Bell to encroach on the City Council’s ability to appoint the six members of the Birmingham Water Works Board. In short, the Mayor seeks even more control through another bill that is being proposed and is using his allies in the Alabama State Legislature to obtain complete control over the city’s budgets, boards, and agencies.
Birmingham’s governmental structure is governed by the 1955 Mayor-Council Act. The mayor is considered the chief executive officer of the City, while the City Council is charged with legislating policies and appointments to boards and agencies. In other words, the council creates laws, and the mayor manages and directs city staff members to carry out those laws. However, Mayor Bell is now seeking additional oversight over present Council appointments, a power that currently resides amongst the elected body of nine City Councilors.
To date, the public has had no input or involvement in the decision to change the Mayor-Council Act. However, the Birmingham City Council is giving the public the opportunity to voice their concerns on both proposed legislations. The consequences to be made to the Mayor-Council Act will have a long-term affect on Birmingham’s city government.
If the aforementioned bills are passed and are signed into law by the Governor, the proposed changes will take effect immediately. Today’s public hearing encourages citizens input and involvement in this critical matter by letting their voices be heard.
The Alabama State Legislature is being asked to consider bills to amend the 1955 Mayor-Council Act to change the City of Birmingham’s governmental structure by making law the following:
- The Mayor would have complete control of the city’s $403 million general fund budget and the $140.8 million capital fund budget (see page 11, section 4 of the on-line capital projects report)
- Removes all “checks and balances” established by the Mayor-Council Act
- The Mayor would appoint 3 Water Works Board members, the Council would appoint 3 Water Works Board members, and the association of Mayors would appoint 3 Water Works Board members
- The Mayor could hire ‘outside’ consultants as needed without Council approval
- The Mayor would approve all city contracts including consultant agreements
- The Mayor would approve all spending including the Council’s budget
- The Mayor would make all boards and agency appointments for the city
- Prevent the Council from performing its elected duties:
- To pass a balanced general fund and capital budget each fiscal year
- To establish local laws governing the City of Birmingham
- To advocate citizens’ needs through the authority vested in the Council
- No Council member would serve on any city board or agency while in office
For media inquiries please contact the Birmingham City Council Director of Public Information Brittany Sharp at 205.254.2036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.