The Jefferson County Commission will be forking over $4 million to the World Games 2022 to help address the organization's $14 million debt.
The World Games began on July 7 and concluded on July 17 with a celebration at Protective Stadium. It hosted 3,459 athletes from 99 different countries who competed in 34 sports.
According to World Games 2022 CEO Sellers, the event cost was $65 million. Though corporate sponsorships paid for most of it, Birmingham already contributed $3 million in 2022, combined with $2.7 million for police overtime.
On the first day of the games, the Birmingham City Council gave emergency spending authority to Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. The city asked Gov. Kay Ivey to declare a state of emergency to authorize emergency expenditures, but Ivey's office declined.
As for the $14 million deficit, Sellers blamed the recent COVID-19 spike and a lousy economy.
The Birmingham City Council decided to give $5 million to the World Games on August 24 by a seven-to-two vote. In return, the World Games Organizing Committee offered professional services and consulting to the city of Birmingham in an agreement.
Woodfin supported the decision, but some council members said they were upset at the lack of communication between the World Games and the council. A handful of citizens attended the council meeting to protest the decision and urge the council to delay their vote until they received more information.
Woodfin said that though there were no hard numbers, he was confident there would be definitive numbers by the end of September, and they would be positive.
The Jefferson County Commission voted four to one on Thursday morning to amend their agreement with the World Games to give them an extra $4 million. Sheila Tyson was the only one to vote against the payment.
According to the commission, the payment will come from American Rescue Plan funds.
"With so much that has happened, the only thing that would really try to convince us is that we have to look at the bigger picture," said commissioner Lashunda Scales. "...It is what it is. People have provided a service, and they need to be paid."
"It's the right thing to do to get these people paid, and we're not going to abandon our partners… when the chips are down," added commissioner Joe Knight, who also serves as the commission finance chair.
Scales said that the commission doesn't plan to bail anyone else out in the future.
"As we move forward, if folks don't stay within their budget, then they will be on their own," Scales advised. "Hopefully, everyone has learned a lesson and will govern themselves accordingly."
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