BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — On Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council delayed voting on a resolution pledging financial support to Birmingham Southern College as it continues to face a financial crisis.
The resolution, authored by District Councilor 2 Hunter Williams and District 8 Councilor Carol Clarke, didn’t specify an exact dollar amount, but Williams said their main goal was to signal that Birmingham stands with the university as well as to persuade potential donors.
At the meeting, the two councilors detailed the economic benefits of Birmingham Southern not only in nearby neighborhoods but also across the county, citing an “almost 100-million-dollar economic impact to our metro area annually.”
“It has been a mighty force for good in our community … We have a lot at stake,” Clarke said.
The resolution was met with some hesitation. Several counselors expressed concerns regarding the unspecified financial commitment and requested more time to gather information and speak with Birmingham Southern leaders.
They also brought up BSC’s past financial mistakes that led to their current situation and harped on the fact that last week, the Alabama Legislature decided not to give BSC funds from the state’s American Rescue Plan allocation.
“Slow down for a minute,” said District 6 Councilor Crystal Smitherman. “Let’s be effective with this decision and not just do this just because it’s a good ‘feel good.'”
“A lot us were honestly blindsided … [We need to be] making sure that we’re just not throwing money at something — that there is a legitimate sustainable plan,” said District 1 Councilor Clinton Woods.
However, the council made it clear that this delay in voting does not mean that help isn’t on the way down the line for BSC.
While the topic may be tabled for now, no matter the outcome, it will impact students, such as BSC senior and student government association president Lauren Barnett.
“A difficult time to be at BSC for sure … Alabama is gonna lose some very capable students and very capable professionals if the school were to close down,” Barnett said. “For the most part, I think people are wanting to stay at BSC for as long as they possible can.”
The vote was tentatively rescheduled for April 19.