Birmingham city councilors disagree with mayor's budget proposal

By Melanie Posey

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham city councilors and the mayor were at odds Monday over the budget.  

At issue is whether the city should cuts costs by laying off some employees or borrow millions of dollars.

Last Monday, Mayor William Bell presented his preliminary suggestitions to addressing the ciyt's $77 million shortfall.  His ideas include taking $25 million from the city's reserve fund, borrowing $33 million dollars, and taking $1.6 million from the city's departments.  But, some city councilors said Monday they feel the plans will likely have to include layoffs as well.

"If some 70-some odd percent of our budget is salary and benefits and with a $77 million shortfall, it seems we can't avoid having to cut some positions or reduce wages," said Councilwoman Valerie Abbott.  

"And that's not something any councilor wants to do, but if they're doing it across the cournty, Birmingham is not immune to the same scritiny and due dilligence," added councilman Steve Hoyt.  

Councilwoman Carole Smitherman said she was opposed to borrowing money and feels the city should look at long term solutions, not just fixing the current problem.

"I'm for looking at early buyouts for retirees and looking at job classifications and what we can do with that," Smitherman said.  "I think there are some creative things we can do without layoffs or going heavy into the Birmingham fund."   

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