Smitherman eliminates jobs within mayor's office

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Acting Birmingham Mayor Carole Smitherman is cutting $500,000 from the Mayor's Office budget, which eliminates 7 positions from the Mayor's staff.

This comes after an announcement earlier this week to freeze all city hiring, and tighten overtime pay because of a $20 million shortfall in the 2010 budget.

Mayor Smitherman would not discuss specific personnel affected, but said the cuts will affect appointed employees, and will take effect immediately.

She said she believes the changes will help the city run more efficiently.

"I understand these are tough economic times and I could not in good conscious ask each department to tighten their belt if the Mayor's office didn't tighten first," said Smitherman.

Smitherman said under former Mayor Larry Langford, there were 82 positions in the Mayor's office. She felt that number was too high.

However, she said it was a tough decision to make.

"Heart wrenching, absolutely heart wrenching. It is the holiday time, that is why I paid them through the holiday including vacation time. I will use any of our contacts to try to get them place in other positions as well."

City Councilor Johnathan Austin agreed with the decision. "I have full confidence Mayor Smitherman is doing the right thing and making the right decisions to improve the health and financial stability of the city."

Acting Mayor Smitherman said next week she will continue to meet with personnel and go through each department and assess where the city can make any other cost cutting moves.

She said that may include more personnel cuts.