Council presents alternative to city salary cuts

By Jonathan Hardison

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham city employees may not have to take a 10% pay cut thanks to a budget compromise worked up by the city council Monday. Though still preliminary, the new budget plan would only involve a few furlough days for employees and no salary cuts.

To find the money to avoid the 10% pay cuts for employees that was in Mayor Bell's original budget, the plan supported by the council members at Monday's meeting would use a combination of sources.

City employees would have 4 unpaid furlough days to take over the course of a year, and the city would take outside agencies that have already been cut by as much as 66% and reduce that funding by another 16% across the board. Match that with taking a combined almost $5 million out of 2 savings funds, and the budget is balanced without major pay cuts.

"That is some good news for our membership and all general employees that the council's coming together and putting up some other ideas instead of a 10% pay cut for all employees, said Don Baker, leader of the Birmingham Firefighters Association. "Some of the ideas they're proposing may get in your pocket a little bit but it won't affect your pension like across the board 10% cuts."

The plan also includes $577,000 to use for non-profits who were left out of the budget completely, or to keep some libraries and recreation centers open that have been slated for closure.

For outside agencies already facing major cuts, adding more pain may not be popular, but the council president says it's part of sharing the load.
"We're gonna take that money and give to meals on wheels," Council President Roderick Royal said. "We're gonna give to Birmingham AIDS outreach, we're going to give to Kid One transport. We're going to give to those agencies that are really necessary in the community that were zeroed out."

This is all preliminary, and must be approved by both the mayor and the full council.

This latest compromise almost certainly will be tweaked before the council votes on a final budget plan as early as next week.

Copyright 2010 WBRC. All rights reserved.