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Council Discusses 2018 Budget Negotiations with Mayor During Committee of the Whole Meeting

On Wednesday, during a special called Committee of the Whole meeting, Birmingham City Councilors and Mayor Bell discussed the progress of the 2018 Budget among other business — a resolution appointing a Human Rights Commission and the upcoming two-and-a-half year Alabama bicentennial celebration that will feature a myriad of concerts and community events.

After an extended discussion regarding the City Council’s involvement in the bicentennial planning, the topic shifted to the updated $428 million budget that was re-submitted to the mayor earlier this month. During the committee meeting, the mayor’s staff passed around copies of the freshly amended budget which several of the Councilors noted had “significant changes.”

One change listed under the “mayor’s compromise” column — as is written in the document — the mayor’s office will absorb the proposed “Office of Women and Minority Inclusion” and the $500,000 in funding that was appropriated to the new department. Initially the mayor had proposed $10.2 million in funding for his office. Upon review, the Council recommended $9.2 million in funding. The latest draft submitted by the mayor raised the total to $9.86 million in order to fund the Office of Women and Minority Inclusion, representatives of the mayor said Wednesday afternoon.

Another change offered to the Council was $1.1 million in longevity pay for employees which will henceforth need to be included into the annual budget in order to “really be paying for longevity” Councilor Lashunda Scales said. Asked where the $1.1 million was shifted from in order to fund the proposed longevity payments, City Finance Director Thomas Barnett indicated the money was a culmination of cuts made to various departments and line items.

Councilors pushed the mayor on both of these changes along with the additional $1.9 million increase to nine General Government departments than what was recommended to his office by the Council earlier this month.

The FY 2018 budget is the city’s largest to date at $428 million. In conjunction with the requested increase for library funding, the Birmingham City Council also recommended increasing the existing funding for the Birmingham Board of Education (BOE) from the mayor’s proposed $2.3 million to $3.9 million as a way to reflect the importance of quality public education in Birmingham and open the door for more workforce development.

Originally the mayor proposed $15.6 million in library funding, which the Council recommended be raised to $17.6 million. In the latest draft submitted to the Council, the library was reduced to $16 million and funding for the BOE was brought down $248,000 for a total of $3.66 million.

This is a developing story and it will be updated once details are made available.

This article is a contribution from Cody Owens (coowens@birminghamal.gov) in the Birmingham City Council Public Information Office. For more information please contact 205.254.2294.