Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin presents 2020 Budget

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) —  UPDATE:  CBS 42 Reporter Robert Sherman presents a continued breakdown of Birmingham’s 2020 budget. Follow him on Twitter for more. 

Here are some highlights:

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin presents the 2020 fiscal year budget

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin presented a $451 million operating budget to city council this morning, which is about 10.5 million above last year’s budget of $436 million. 
Some of the highlights include:

1. Targetting 14 million dollars for neighborhood revitalization
$8 million in street paving (an increase of $5.5 million over last year)
$4.75 million for demolition and weed abatement (an increase of $1.5 million over last year)
$500k for code enforcement technology to speed up the process 
$1 million for Land Bank Authority to expedite the title clearance process (an increase of $650k over last year)

2. Investing in city employees
$24.6 million for total city contribution to the pension fund, representing a $5.8 million increase to address the unfunded liability

3. Modernizing the city
$800K to move to digital based, rather than a paper-based system

4. BPD Crime Center Investment of $1.5 million
Creation of real- crime center

5. Birmingham Promise 
$2 million investment in secondary and post-secondary workforce development for Birmingham students, creating apprenticeships and real job opportunities

Mayor Woodfin tells CBS 42 that the biggest challenge he faced was finding a way to fully fund pensions while also maintaining ample funding for neighborhood revitalization. To help cut costs, Mayor Woodfin and his staff have opted to eliminate 94 vacant positions that had not been filled in years. CBS 42 is still awaiting numbers from the Mayor’s office as to how much these cuts will save. 

According to Mayor Woodfin, funding the pension fund had to be done. 

“We’ve got to take care of our employees who are our greatest asset in providing public service, the public service that our residents deserve,” said Mayor Woodfin. “So you couldn’t just kick the can down the road as it’s been kicked. So, we’re excited that we are meeting and fully funding the city’s portion of the pension.”

With pensions fully funded, Mayor Woodfin’s office was still able to scrape together millions for neighborhood revitalization. 

“We’re happy to say that we put $14-plus million of this budget towards neighborhood revitalization with the majority of that being towards paving streets,” said Mayor Woodfin. “Which, is something people always ask us about.”

Takeshia Ballard knows about the need for neighborhood revitalization all too well. She has been a proud resident of the Smithfield neighborhood since 1995. The community she loves, however, has aesthetically seen better days. 

“It’s a problem. I’ve actually called and made complaints,” said Ballard. “Anybody that I can reach out to, I’ve reached out to.”

But Ballard has not had any luck. Today, weeds in some areas grow several feet high and dance in the wind, streets sit caked in debris and dirt, while potholes spiderweb across the roadways. 

Ballard tells CBS 42 that when the Magic City Classic comes to town, however, things are very different. 

“The city workers will come through and just clear out all the debris, the trash, and all the overgrown stuff,” said Ballard. “But that’s only once a year.”

Mayor Woodfin tells CBS 42 that these are common issues throughout the 99 neighborhoods, but the money allocated towards neighborhood revitalization is meant to address them. 

With news of the proposed budget, Ballard is excited and hopeful that change might finally be on the way. 

“There’s hope. There’s hope,” said Ballard. “I hope this budget passes so that we will see the improvements in the Smithfield community. 

Mayor Woodfin held a town hall meeting Tuesday night at the Birmingham Crossplex to give residents an opportunity to ask questions about the budget. 

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