Birmingham City Council spends surplus on city employee boost, ‘family amusement park’ at Five Points West, Caraway Amphitheater and more

Birmingham City Council unanimously approved several measures on Tuesday morning to spend what Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin called a budget surplus of more than $80 million.

One of the measures was a 5% “cost of living adjustment” for city employees, which Woodfin proposed earlier this month. The increase will cost the city more than $13 million. Although the cost of living in Alabama is relatively lowthe cost of living has risen across the country due to rapid inflation.

However, this is not the first pay rise for City of Birmingham workers.

The city council already past its largest-ever operating budget for fiscal year 2023 in July, at $517 million. The budget included his own 5% salary increase and additional benefits. The pay raise and additional benefits totaled an additional $56 million for city employees.

“It allows us to say thank you and show our sincere gratitude to our city employees,” Woodfin said in a video statement following Tuesday’s meeting. “In addition to this, we support our employees in various departments within our Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works Department and Transportation Department.”

In addition to the cost-of-living adjustment, the council elected to approve improvements to several recreation centers, libraries, parks, walking paths and historic sites in the city, including Rickwood Field and Legion Field.

The board also chose to spend $15 million on a “family entertainment centerat the Birmingham CrossPlex, which Woodfin announced in October, and $5 million for a new amphitheater in north Birmingham that will replace Pelham’s Oak Mountain Amphitheatre.

In October, Woodfin said the “family recreation center” would be 20,000 square feet and discussions on the project began in early 2022. He said the funds came from the refinancing of commercial development bonds which Birmingham City Council approved in 2020.

The Birmingham CrossPlex near Five Points West opened in 2011 and has since been used for indoor athletics competitions and other sporting events. The facility includes a 200 meter hydraulic running track and a 50 meter swimming and diving pool.

The new amphitheater will be located on the site of Carraway Hospital, which Corporate Realty purchased in 2020 after the city rezoned the mixed-use property and approved more than $13 million in incentives, including a $4 million grant. $1 million to help the company acquire the property. .

The incentives also include $9.1 million, which would be based on tax revenue generated from the entire development.

The planned $340 million development, now called “The Star at Uptown,” is intended to include single and multi-family residential properties as well as hotels, retail, offices and entertainment facilities.

New theater would be owned by the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center (BJCC) and operated by Live Nation. It would be slightly smaller than Pelham’s 10,500 seats, comprising only 8,900 to 9,000 seats.

The Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex has agreed to pay $5 million upfront for the construction of the new theater. He also agreed to fund $30 million. Other localities and organizations have been approached to fork $5 million each to advance the deal, including the Jefferson County Commission and Live Nation.

Birmingham City Council has already voted to pay nearly $4 million in December to help Caraway Hospital demolition. The money came from American Rescue Plan Act funding and was an advance payment of $4.5 million in promised future tax abatement. The demolition of the property has already started during the summer.

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