Councilor Abbott releases statement clarifying comments on library furloughs and City budget constraints

PRESS RELEASE                              Tuesday, November 17, 2020 

Contact: Kim Garner 

Phone: 205-254-2036 

Email: kimberly.garner@birminghamal.gov

During Tuesday’s meeting, Councilor Valerie Abbott addressed comments that she had made during Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting regarding City budget constraints and furloughed employees.
On Monday night, an item came before the Committee of the Whole regarding a transfer of roughly $7 million from the City’s reserve funds in order to bring back 130 furloughed employees, many of them being library employees. The move would take the City’s reserves past a point that some Councilors, including Abbott, believe would negatively impact the City’s credit rating.
Councilor Abbott has released the following statement clarifying her remarks:
“On Monday, we were presented with a plan from the Mayor’s administration that would potentially bring back some of our furloughed employees. However, this move would be paid for out of the City’s reserve fund balance.
I’ve received many calls from constituents who believed I was stating a personal opinion when I said that we were told by the administration that some employees were being paid to sit at home due to closures of some facilities.
Simply put, this is what the Council was told by the Mayor. I was in no way trying to demean the efforts of any of our employees and I apologize if that is how my comments were construed.
We know that our librarians are passionate about the service they provide and would come to work even if they were not being paid. I have always, and will continue to be, a huge supporter of our public library system.
As a Council, we have a duty to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, especially during this time of unprecedented economic uncertainty. My colleagues and I are seeking additional information to ensure that we are making sound financial decisions on behalf of all our citizens. Of course we would love to bring back every single employee who has been furloughed. We just have to make sure that is being accomplished in a manner that is fiscally responsible and in line with the City’s best interests.”

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