Birmingham budget cuts facing opposition

By Sherea Harris

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham Mayor William Bell has a plan to balance the city's budget but it comes with a lot of strong opposition. The plan includes cutting salaries, spending and closing some recreation centers and libraries.

In a packed meeting, everyone had the same worries. City employees and non-profit organizations tried to convince the council not to pass the mayor's proposed cuts. An overflow of people stood in the hallway outside the council chambers. Inside, the room was filled to capacity.

A public works employee spoke at the meeting saying employees cannot afford to have 10% cut from their pay checks.

There was a strong presence of police and firefighters, who oppose the salary cuts. Don Baker, president of the Birmingham Firefighters Association says firefighters just recently had their hours cut because of budget problems.

"Morale is slipping. We have a lot of new hires that have come on," said Baker. "As anyone would do facing a pay cut, they are worried."

"We have other ways we can solve the budget issue," said Councilor Johnathan Austin. "We have reserves options that have not been put on the table as it relates to revenue enhancers. To try to balance budget on the backs of people who are protecting us keeping our city clean, not the way to go."

Johnathan Austin says councilors will have several budget workshops and they will present other solutions to mayor's office

FOX6 spoke to Mayor William Bell. He says what he has proposed is indeed the only way to balance the budget and the only other option would be layoffs.

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