B’ham city worker: Crime will increase if furloughs happen

Outcry over furloughs and budget cuts

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A special-called public hearing was held Monday in Birmingham to discuss the proposed 2020-2021 budget that city leaders said could have a multi-million-dollar deficit which could mean furloughs of city workers.

The hearing was emotional and intense as city workers pled with the city council to decline Mayor Randall Woodfin’s proposed budget, hoping to keep their jobs.

Mayor Woodfin cites a $63 million deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cuts could mean furloughs of 114 part-time and 259 full-time employees indefinitely.

In a statement, Woodfin says that they’re continuing to work with various boards to identify ways to minimize the impact of that shortfall.

City employee AJ Johnson said furloughs would cause more crime.

“It’s a young man who’s 18 years old who picks up trash on Mondays and Thursdays. What formidable idea do we give him as a young man about how he can grow in the city of Birmingham if we put him on furlough when he used to sell drugs. If anybody is laid off in this city, what will they do to get back on their feet when their woman tells them to go out there and get that money, I don’t care how you get it,” said Johnson.

The Mayor’s office sent WBRC a response to claims of public amenities like trash and park maintenance being reduced due to furloughs: The mayor has been consistent in saying the proposed budget will not cut basic services including garbage pickup, street and sidewalk repairs and upgrades, fire and police protection... no employees have been furloughed in those general government and public safety areas. Trash pickup will not decline in this budget and park maintenance would continue to be addressed.”

The hearing was for the Budget and Finance Committee to get community input.

No decisions were made.

The committee planned to have a meeting with the library, park, and school board in the following weeks.

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