Birmingham Mayor William Bell unveils $428 million budget for 2018

Birmingham's economic growth is contributing to the city's largest budget, according to Mayor William Bell. (Michael Tomberlin / Alabama NewsCenter)

Birmingham Mayor William Bell on Tuesday presented to the city council a $428 million fiscal 2018 budget that increased as a result of recruiting and retaining businesses, the mayor said.

In his budget message on Tuesday, the mayor pointed out that “aggressive business recruitment and retention” by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and increased revenues over the past five years have led to an “unprecedented” $64 million increase in the budget since 2012.

“The city of Birmingham continues to show strong signs of economic growth, allowing us to present the largest budget ever in the city’s history,” said Bell.

Construction of the101-room Comfort Inn and Suites at CrossPlex Village is set to start in June. (Davis Architects)

The spending plan contains a 5 percent merit raise for employees, an extra $1.5 million for police vehicles, and $1.5 million to help clean neighborhoods.

The fiscal year begins July 1.

In addition to economic development, the mayor said the city has paid attention to the neighborhoods. He pointed to Operation Green Wave, “which has begun its second pass through the city,” said Bell.

“The first wave cut more than 12,000 lots, removed more than 86,000 tons of trash and debris, cut more than 20,000 right of ways and more than 2,000 alleys,” he added. “The budget includes $1.5 million to continue Operation Green Wave.”

Bell also talked about abandoned structures, which have been an issue in the city for decades. He noted that the Department of Planning, Engineering and Permits has more than tripled its demolition capacity.

“In 2012, fewer than 200 structures were removed. In 2016, we removed more than 600 blighted structures,” he said. “This effort takes additional resources, so we have included another $1.5 million in the budget to continue our demolition efforts.”

The mayor also said how pleased he is with the advancement of several projects throughout the city, including the Ramsay McCormack Ensley Public Safety Municipal Complex, the One Pratt Superblock project, the Crossplex development, the opening of the Maxine Herring Parker Bridge in Collegeville, and the continued development of the downtown Historic Civil Rights District. He added that bond projects continue throughout the city, with more than $9 million in paving and $10 million in park improvements and upgrades to historic Legion Field.

Republished with permission of Alabama NewsCenter.