UPDATE, 8:30 p.m., 9/11/2015: According to a press release received earlier this evening, the Birmingham City Council moved to rescind the moratorium on spending on capital projects during their next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, September 15. This was after a 3 1/2 hour committee of the whole meeting, described in the release as being “open and often candid.”
The original post follows below:
Late Thursday afternoon the Birmingham City Council officially announced a special called meeting of its Committee of the Whole for Friday at 2 p.m. at City Hall. The meeting takes place just three days after the city’s legislative body voted to put in place a 30-day moratorium on funding for all capital projects underway in the city (as reported by AL.com), with a few notable exceptions — including renovations at Legion Field and the new intermodal transit facility currently under construction. A review of the committee meeting’s preliminary agenda for the meeting shows the only item under New Business as a “capital projects update.”
A press release sent out this afternoon in advance of the presentation to the council by the mayor’s office included the following quote from council president Johnathan Austin:
“As City Councilors we must be continually updated on all projects that utilize public funds to ensure that we are making the best decisions for our constituents. While we are excited about new growth opportunities that certain capital projects may present it is prudent that we are cautious about approving funding for items that we have minimal knowledge about.”
A report filed by WBRC’s Vanessa Araiza on Wednesday pointed to cost overruns related to Regions Field as a major reason for the delay. The council voted on Tuesday to approve paying the remaining expenses to Robins & Morton and A.G. Gaston Construction over a seven-year period. Members of the City Council also alluded to receiving some monthly reports covering progress while not receiving others, despite claims from the mayor’s office to the contrary. The reports are not accessible currently via the city’s official website, though the monthly report for the city’s street and storm sewer improvements program for the period ending December 31, 2014 is available online in part due to a report filed for ABC 33/40 in late January.
The current fiscal year’s capital budget is available on the city’s website via the budget office.
Several of Birmingham’s bravest stood atop a fire engine in front of City Hall with buckets of water at 5 p.m. Tuesday evening. The reason? Several City Councilors had decided to accept the Ice Bucket Challenge made by members of their central staff earlier in the day and they needed some help to pull it off.
Council president Johnathan Austin was joined by councilors William Parker and Sheila Tyson — shortly before her well-attended telephonic town hall meeting (488 people took part BTW) — in addition to president pro-tempore Jay Roberson. We shot some video, but the city’s provided one that captures the highlights from a much better angle:
Bobbi Grady, director of development and outreach for the Alabama chapter of the ALS Association, spoke to the small crowd gathered to witness the eventually-YouTubed spectacle to thank them for helping to draw attention to the organization. Among those challenged on Tuesday evening were Mayor Bell and his staff, all of the city’s corporate chief executives, and all elected officials in the metropolitan area.
Incidentally, this year’s Birmingham Walk to Defeat ALS is scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 11 at the Hoover Met — in case you want another way to raise awareness and funds to help fight this disease. The event has traditionally served as the organization’s largest single fundraiser. Several reports, however, suggest the ice bucket challenge may eclipse it this year. A press release sent out by the ALS Association yesterday states they’ve raised $88.5 million between July 29 to August 26; the same period last year saw donations totaling $2.6 million.
This morning during Mayor Langford’s comments to the Birmingham City Council in council chambers, he asked for two of the city’s upcoming capital projects to be named for two women who had served the city on the council. It took the Birmingham City Council less than 3 minutes to unanimously approve resolutions for both naming opportunities.
They approved naming the planned Five Points West athletic facility slated for Fair Park in honor of Miriam Witherspoon, the council president pro-tempore who passed away unexpectedly last week, and the intermodal transit facility for Nina Miglionico, the first woman ever elected to serve on the Council. Langford then reported that Miglionico is currently in the hospital. Miglionico’s name had been suggested before, in 1999, but it was withdrawn and never voted upon.
Yesterday the Birmingham City Council delayed a vote on council agenda Item #17, which at first glance would look like a direct correlation with the title of yesterday’s On the Agenda post. If approved, it would move forward plans to complete phase II of the city’s intermodal transit facility on Morris Avenue.
That is, until you let Birmingham Weekly‘s Kyle Whitmire and The Birmingham News‘ Joseph Bryant fill in the details about the concerns regarding the potential involvement of Larry Langford‘s mayoral campaign manager and CEO of Matrix, LLC, Jeff Pitts.
We just got an email asking for residents to show up at tomorrow’s City Council meeting to show support for residents of the city’s Glen Iris neighborhood. For more than a year they’ve been working to stop development of 107 apartments planned for the eastern side of George Ward Park on the former Knights of Columbus Property. Among other things, the park holds a 24-hole disc golf course.
They will attempt to convince the council tomorrow to initiate a Sector Plan Study of the portion of the Glen Iris Neighborhood that includes the property in question to determine the appropriate zoning. They’re also hoping for a moratorium on building while that sector plan study is being conducted.
The email contains all of the pertinent details.
This week’s Birmingham City Council agenda is light – 15 pages – but it contains a major first reading today.
Items 6 & 7 (on page 3) provide the framework for our local transit authority to continue to provide paratransit service to patients in the region. The $1.77 million being pulled from the money already allocated to the transit authority earlier in the city’s budget will provide new buses for the BJCTA’s aging paratransit fleet. There is additional service provided by ClasTran, but they’ve been feeling the effects of the economic downturn.
This morning’s Birmingham News makes it sound like there’s going to be a delay on the vote due to the fact that it’s a reorganization of where funds are going instead of additional funding for the agency.
Birmingham City Council filed a request for a temporary restraining order, asking a judge to keep a downtown teenage hot spot closed for good.
Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Graffeo will hold a hearing on the request Thursday.
The L.R. Hall Auditorium was closed last week, under the advisement of Mayor Larry Langford and Police Chief A.C. Roper. They have called the venue a public safety threat, saying there have been numerous police calls and hundreds of complaints of vandalism and gunshots.