How is Birmingham spending its $35M COVID-19 recovery funds? The breakdown

Birmingham City Hall in 2021. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

The Birmingham City Council has unanimously approved a plan to spend the first round of the city’s American Rescue Plan funds it has received to help recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The $35 million plan will fund public safety, community and economic development, transportation, and city employees.  

According to the Mayor’s Office, earlier this year Birmingham was allocated $141.3 million in Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds from the U.S. Department of Treasury. The first installment, $70,636,089, was received in May 2021. About $17.5 million of that was used to support city employees’ continued service during the COVID-19 pandemic and $18 million filled the budget gap for the Birmingham Xpress bus rapid transit project due to the rise in construction costs.  

This month, the Council passed a measure allocating the remaining $35 million.

How will they spend the funds? Here is a line -item breakdown: 

Critical workers: $650,000-$900,000 

BirminghamPolice How is Birmingham spending its $35M COVID-19 recovery funds? The breakdown
Birmingham Police officers at a 2018 swearing in ceremony. (Photo via Birmingham Police Department)

2020 calendar year vacation buyout for fire, police, and public works employees  

Community-based public safety: $3 million

  • Hospital-linked violence intervention program 
  • Community-based conflict resolution 

Community & economic development: $17 million 

  • COVID response for existing small businesses  
  • Microloans for new small business starts  
  • Site acquisition and remediation  
  • Attracting conferences and conventions  
  • Reimagining shuttered schools 
  • Affordable home ownership  
  • Homelessness support 
  • District-specific and city-wide councilor projects 

Transportation: $7.5 million  

On Demand
Community Foundation staff using Birmingham On-Demand service. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now
  • Expansion of Birmingham On Demand public mobility program supported by Via 
  • Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority  

City of Birmingham operational and facilities funding support for World Games: $5 million  

Mayor Woodfin poses with The World Games 2022 staff during press release
The World Games 2022 press release to reveal mascots, guest performances and celebrate ticket sales going live.
  • Security upgrades and critical repairs to facilities operational equipment  

Capacity: $1.3 million 

  • Competitive grants  
  • Equity, impact, and community engagement  
  • Accounting compliance  
  • Capital projects management 

The city will receive the second half of the rescue funds, another $70 million, in May 2022. 

Working Together

IMG 2208 How is Birmingham spending its $35M COVID-19 recovery funds? The breakdown
Christmas tree in front of the Birmingham City Hall, December 22, 2019. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Mayor Randall Woodfin lauded the Council’s plan and stressed the importance of working together.

“This is an important step in our recovery from the global pandemic. Together, with the council, our city and its residents are being positioned to thrive,” he said in a statement.

What do you think of the Mayor and Council’s American Rescue Spending Plan? Let us know. Leave a comment on Bham Now’s  social media — Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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