Birmingham mayor, city council at odds over budget fix

By Ashley Nix

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - There seems to be lots of dissention between Birmingham Mayor William Bell and city councilors regarding how to fix a $77 million budget deficit.  

Last week, Bell proposed a plan of action which includes a $33 million loan.  Many city councilors said Tuesday they won't vote for a loan and think the mayor should look more closely at possible layoffs within city hall.

When asked Tuesday about layoffs, Bell said, "They want to cut everybody else but they don't wanna cut their own projects and staff. That's a little disengenious."

Councilor Valerie Abbott said other options need to be discussed, including the possibility of layoffs.

"Layoffs, reduced hours, 10 percent reduced pay," Abbott said as she threw out other options.  "For all of us, including council members, every single one of us needs to pitch in if we decide as a group that's what we need to do."

Bell fired back, saying he didn't understand why councilors didn't voice such concerns last week when the plan was announced.  

"Here in the mayor's office, we've eliminated positions and reduced salaries... and when they start doing the same thing then we'll entertain the discussion with them," Bell said.

Councilor Jay Roberson, who also said he wasn't in support of any sort of loan, said Tuesday he has another idea, possibly saving millions.  

"I am in support of finding incentives and severance for employees who've been here 20 years," Roberson said.  "To give them a package and let them move on."

Both Mayor Bell and city councilors agreed another meeting needs to happen soon for all ideas to be thrown on the table.  

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