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Mayor Advances $420 Million Budget with Emphasis on Neighborhoods and Public Safety

Media Advisory

April Odom

Mayor Advances $420 Million Budget with Emphasis on Neighborhoods and Public Safety

Mayor’s budget message for FY 2017:

Mayor William A. Bell, Sr.
FY 2017 Budget Message
May 10, 2016

The City of Birmingham has seen many successes this fiscal year.  Everything from ribbon cuttings to groundbreakings to the introduction of legislation on the United States House of Representatives floor designating the Civil Rights District as a national park.  The momentum and progress throughout the City is the product of the hard work of men and women, the result of public-private partnerships and the belief by many that this City is the heart and soul of the state and worth the investment of time, money and energy.

The 2017 General Fund Operating Budget projects total revenues of $420,258,567.00 with an increase of $16,544,025 over last fiscal year’s projection. An increase in ad-valorem tax, business taxes and a charges for services increase make up the increased revenue. In this budget, we are focusing on our two greatest assets our employees and the neighborhoods.

Our employees have progressed and evolved at a time where we are expecting more efficiency and productivity out of each department. The fiscal year 2017 budget includes a 1% cost of living increase and a 5% merit raise for all eligible employees.

Our neighborhoods and communities are the backbone of this City. The neighborhood and community officers are our street level eyes and ears. They give us direction and tell us the true needs of the community. With that in mind, we are increasing the neighborhood funds to $5000 per neighborhood rather than the $2000 they had been receiving. This money can be used for small, but impactful projects and events in the neighborhoods.

This year we have pushed a massive cleanup and revitalization effort that has seen over 400 structures torn down and thousands of acres and lots cleaned throughout the City. Our hope is to continue this effort with $1,403,000 in weed abatement money budgeted and over $1,287,000 in demolition budgeted. It is not enough to just tear down the houses or mow the lots, this year we will fund the Land Bank authority at the level of $350,000 to give them resources to clear the titles of tax delinquent properties. Since their launch, thousands have called in to get information on the side lot program and other ways to return these vacant lots to the tax rolls. In order to truly impact long term change, the vacant lots need owners who will return them to good use.

Public Safety is a critical need in our City for all of us. In this budget, we are expanding Shot Spotter with an additional 12 square miles at a cost of $840,000. We will also fund police body cameras at $1,000,000 including the data storage for the body camera footage. We also included lease payments of $1,347,000 for public safety communications equipment. Our police department is dedicated to the health and safety of our citizens and this gives us the chance to continue the positive impact they have on our community as a whole.

The Birmingham Fire and Rescue Department shows each day how to handle crisis situations with professionalism and compassion. They are often the first call to any emergency situation and do thousands of transports throughout the year. We hope to help them in their efforts by including money for recouping their expenses from insurance companies by funding fire collection service.

The history of Birmingham embodies the legacy of the civil rights struggle, and as the Mayor of this dynamic City it is my great honor to present this budget with the hopes that our people continue to make lasting change, that our neighborhoods get the attention they deserve and the nation and world continue to see what a great City we are, but even more importantly, what a generous and kind people we are as we rise to meet every challenge.