As part of his new $554 million city budget for fiscal year (FY) 2024, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin proposed another cost of living (COL) adjustment for police and firefighters, which would be the third since last May.
Woodfin proposed one 5% pay raise for all city employees in the FY 2023 budget in June. He proposed another 5% COL adjustment in January. If passed as is, the 5% COL adjustment in the proposed FY 2024 budget would offer public safety personnel a cumulative 15% COL adjustment over the last 12 months.
Woodfin discussed the new budget proposals at a news conference on Tuesday after presenting it to the Birmingham City Council that morning.
The budget suggests funding increases for items such as street paving, public transportation, neighborhood revitalization and Birmingham Promise, a program for Birmingham City School students to receive scholarship money to attend college.
Other than the COL adjustment for police officers, the Birmingham Police Department (BPD) did not receive an increase in funding compared to 2022. The BPD has faced several challenges over the past year, including a severe violent crime epidemic and recruiting difficulties.
BPD is stationed in the center of over 30 municipalities in the Birmingham area. BPD must compete not only with other police departments and sheriff’s offices but also with other professions. Law enforcement faces an unprecedented national staffing shortage, with fewer people seeking to become police officers.
In September, the Gwinnett County Police Department (GCPD) of the Atlanta metro area held a hiring event in Birmingham, potentially due to their ability to out-bid Birmingham-area police salaries in the face of the national police shortage.
According to Zippa.com, Alabama has the second-lowest average police officer salary in the country at $31,858. The only state where police officers make less, on average, is Mississippi at $30,822. Birmingham’s $517 million FY 2023 budget was already the largest in the city’s history.
Woodfin cited a surplus in city revenue. The budget expects revenue from sales taxes to exceed $146 million. The city also expects increases in revenue from use taxes, occupational licenses, public utility taxes, beer wholesale and retail taxes, table wine taxes, and lease and rental taxes.
The Birmingham City Council will host a public hearing at Boutwell Auditorium on June 5 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the proposed budget.
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