With only one dissenting vote, the Birmingham City Council has approved Birmingham Mayor William Bell’s plan to fund a downtown baseball park. The mayor’s plan would raise the city’s lodging tax to 6.5 percent to pay for the new park.
Council President Roderick Royal was the only councilor to vote against the plan. Royal said there were still too many unanswered questions for him to support the plan.
Royal said he does not believe the mayor’s claim that this project will not cost Birmingham citizens. Royal argued that potential tax rebates and incentives for adjacent developments would cost the city taxes it would otherwise receive.
“I don’t’ want any ifs,” Royal said.
Mayor Bell has said that this project does not address adjacent development and that any incentives would be considered on the merits of the adjoining developments.
The baseball park is the second component in an agressive building plan Bell is pushing. The other half, a high-end hotel at the BJCC, passed the council last week.
“The only way for us to have jobs is for us to have projects,” Councilor Carole Smitherman said. “Projects equal jobs.”
Councilor Johnathan Austin complimented the mayor for finally getting the city moving and building on the momentum from Railroad Park’s completion.
“We have gotten over our inferiority complex in not being able to do things,” Austin said.