Birmingham City Council passes new budget

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – The Birmingham City Council has passed a budget for the 2011 fiscal year.

The plan includes seven unpaid furlough days for city employees, but that would be eliminated if they are granted the new $15 million loan that they agreed to apply for on Tuesday as well.

Mayor William Bell says the $15-million bank loan will help avoid 10% pay cuts and unpaid holidays for city workers. It will also replace money spent from the general fund budget on the Fair Park renovation project.

Several non-profits were cut out of the budget and council members say, despite the new plan, they have no choice but to make a pay cut for firefighters. The city's firefighters face a 20% pay cut due to a federal court ruling that requires firefighters and police officers to receive equal pay.

Councilors have agreed to reevaluate the budget mid-year.

City councilors will also discuss whether or not to sell a historic fire station in Birmingham. The economic development committee is debating whether to sell the Clairmont Avenue station to a developer who plans to build a Walgreens in the spot.

Preservationists and neighbors have complained about the possible sale of the property and the developer's plans. The developer is offering $200,000 for the site.

On Wednesday, councilors on the public safety committee will meet to discuss a ban on texting while driving in the city. Councilor Kim Rafferty says she is encouraged by all the other cities that have passed similar ordinances. If the committee approves the texting ban, it could go to the full council for a vote next week.

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