By Jonathan Hardison
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Furniture, cars, and how about a vacant lot? Birmingham wants to sell some of their surplus if Councilor Carole Smitherman gets her way.
Smitherman is pushing Mayor William Bell to look at selling surplus property to help raise money for next year's budget and possibly avoid the 10% salary cuts for city workers that Bell has proposed.
She also mentions that she's not sure those salary cuts are necessary as she believes the mayor's projection about how much money the city will spend next year is on the low end.
To solidify her point, Smitherman showed a pair of vacant lots in west Birmingham's Wednesday. "$16,000 is what we're standing here looking at right now, so we can sell some of that, I think it would be well worth us looking at it on a deeper basis," Smitherman said.
The city spends between $300-$400 every few weeks to mow just those 2 lots, a process that's repeated at hundreds of these city-owned properties.
Smitherman says putting these lots on the market along with surplus furniture, cars, and computers would help the city find extra money for next year's budget. That budget could force salary cuts for city employees and the closing of some libraries and recreation centers.
Mayor Bell's office says he is open to any and all suggestions on how to find extra revenue, but the mayor's staff sent FOX6 News a list of 7 things the city already does to find the coins in its collective cushion.
They include selling cars and other items online through a site called GovDeals.com, selling used motor oil taken from city vehicles, selling scrap metal from the landfill, and trading empty toner cartridges for credit when the city's printers run dry.
"There may be a process in place, but if it's not generating enough money for us, then we need to look at it in another way," Smitherman said. "We just have look at other ways to bring in revenue. It may not come up, Jonathan, to whatever the deficit is, it may not come up to the deficit is, but it certainly will be a start in the right direction."
Smitherman's ideas don't end with surplus property. She says the city should consider selling naming rights for its new athletic complex under construction at Fair Park. They may sell ad time for its new scoreboard going in this summer at Legion Field.