OTHER OPINION: How not to settle Birmingham’s budget

By The Birmingham News

Birmingham Mayor William Bell and the City Council have been here before: A new fiscal year starting without an approved operating budget.
One might think they would learn from the past. One would think wrong.
After the council changed Bell’s submitted $380.98 million budget, shifting millions of dollars from the mayor’s weed abatement program and removing $250,000 requested for the city’s 1963 celebration, Bell refused to place the budget on Tuesday’s council agenda.
As reported by AL.com’s and The Birmingham News’ Joseph D. Bryant, in place of Bell’s proposed spending, the council added more than $1.56 million for the council office and discretionary money in proposals from council members Johnathan Austin and Valerie Abbott.
The mayor and council have historically had disagreements over the annual budget ranging from a lack of communication to differing spending priorities. Bell wanted to meet with Council President Roderick Royal about the budget on Tuesday, but Royal refused because Tuesday’s are council meeting days.
If the arguments look and sound petty, that’s because they are.
If Bell and a majority of the council can’t come to a compromise, Bell needs to schedule the budget for a vote. If he doesn’t like what the council passes, he has the option of vetoing the spending plan. The council can then override that veto, if it so desires.
But the city does not have the option of running without an operating budget.
Bell and council members were elected to conduct the city’s business. That’s what they should be doing. Not holding up progress over what is a relatively small amount of money in a $380 million budget.

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