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Birmingham reviews proposed fiscal year budget

By Grace Lovins

Birmingham commissioners reviewed the proposed budgets of city departments for the 2023-2024 fiscal year at the budget hearing on Saturday, April 29, with costs for most departments showing increases, resulting in an increased proposed budget for most departments.

Establishing the anticipated budgets for the fiscal year is a nine-month process, said city manager Tom Markus, which begins in October and ends in June. The city's fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30 each year. The city budgets for the next fiscal year and plans the amounts for the next two fiscal years, allowing the city manager and finance director to make changes to the spending plan to maximize financial stability, Markus also noted.

According to Markus, the taxable value for the city during the year is expected to total roughly $3.2 billion and the city should expect to see a 4.7 percent annual increase in property taxes. On top of that, residents should expect rates for both water and sewer to increase.

Financial director Mark Gerber and Markus both noted that water consumption is down, and since demand is down, the costs are only going to increase. Water rates are projected to increase eight percent and sewer rates are expected to increase by four percent. Gerber also noted that part of the rate supplies water to fire hydrants as well.

General government saw an increase in the projected budget for five of the seven departments. Personnel services, including salary, wages and labor burden caused a bulk of the increases for most departments in order to hire and retain city employees, with some departments planning for transition periods for staff soon to be retiring.

The city will also see an increase in expenditures for the 48th District Court which increased largely for the next year, said Gerber. Since the court operates on a calendar year instead of the fiscal year, the readjustment from the new percentage of caseloads from 2021 created the extra amount the city needs to budget. According to Gerber, the revenue from the court should also see an increase. The projected total cost is expected to be approximately $1.6 million.

Several significant capital improvements are budgeted for next year, each exceeding $250,000. The annual maintenance program for concrete sidewalk will continue through the year with an approved $700,000 from the general fund. Other projects include overhauls on the Pierce and West Maple alleys; major road reconstruction along with water and sewer replacement; and parking garage rehabilitation.

Major street improvements for the year have budgeted an $800,000 increase for capital improvements and local streets have budgeted a $600,000 increase, also for capital improvements. The city’s capital projects fund has budgeted $1.2 million for architectural design for the city hall and police department renovations.

The commission did not vote on or approve the budget at the public hearing. Commissioners will see the budget again to approve and adopt it at a later date.


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