Your Complete Guide to Neighborhood Spending

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The Citizen Participation Program is administered under the Office of the Community Resources Division. The primary goals of the program are to address quality of life issues in each neighborhood and to implement programs that promote community growth and development. In facilitating these objectives, the City, since 2009, has assisted the neighborhood associations’ efforts by serving as the source of the neighborhoods budget. This relationship is what creates the responsibility on neighborhoods to be held to the same standard of review when making expenditures as the City of Birmingham.

The primary departments/associations that have initial authority on all neighborhood allocation requests are the Neighborhood Association, the Community Resources Division, the Budget and Finance Department and the Law Department. The review under each consists of but is not limited to the following:

Neighborhood Association Review

  • Exercises prudent judgment when considering allocation request.

  • Coordinates all requests with the Community Resources Division.

  • Submits requests on a timely basis to ensure review by designated review bodies.

  • Exercises diligence in assessing the appropriateness of neighborhood allocation requests in the context of applicable, local, state federal laws.

  • To the extent possible, develops an annual budget that project expenditures for projects that may be considered within a calendar year.

Community Resources Division Review

  • Has the responsibility to submit request on a timely basis to ensure review by appropriate legislative and executive bodies.

  • Has responsibility to ensure that the request is complete and contains required documentation.

  • Coordinates with the neighborhood association on all requests

Budget and Finance Department Review

  • Ensures request meets all applicable local, state and federal law.

  • Ensures allocation would comply with generally accepted accounting principles

Legal Review

  • Reviews all request for allocations in the context of applicable, local, state and federal law;

  • If appropriate Approves as to Form;

  • Provides guidance to Community Resources Division if agreement needs further review.

Generally, the City Council considers the requests subsequent to the internal administrative review and determines whether a proposal serves a public purpose.

This document serves as a guide to inform neighborhood associations about the type of request that have traditionally been approved. Though each request is considered on a case by case basis, this is designed to help associations determine what type of projects is likely to be approved.

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Infrastructure Improvements (e.g., drainage/ditch repair, resurfacing)

Curbs/Sidewalks, and repairs to entrance signs

*Improvements are limited to City Property

Fun Days, ($3000.00 cap)

Food is approved by City Council by way of public purpose finding

*(Additional support, such as food, may be requested from your respective City

Councilors for a particular event with funds from their discretionary account)

Landscape Improvements that include entrance Signs and landscape lighting,

landscaping services and items, planters, and community Trash Receptacles

*No landscape equipment may be purchased

* Improvements are limited to Public Property

Facility Usage for Neighborhood Association meetings, subject to contract

Storage Rental Fees for city property.

Neighborhood Improvements to parks, city property and rights of way.

Park Improvements

(e.g., pavilions, playground equipment, flag poles, monuments and markers, security monitoring systems, benches, water fountains, and parking lot improvements)

*Subject to approval and coordination by the Park & Recreation Board

Support of Birmingham public schools in the form of (e.g., school equipment having less than a five (5) year life expectancy), competitions or school trips

Up to ($5000.00 within specific community per year)

* All expenditures for area schools must be coordinated with the Birmingham Board of

Education prior to the neighborhood allocation

Consumable supplies (e.g., paper, ink, toner, writing utensils and other items used for neighborhood meetings.)

Equipment for public use in the neighborhood with life expectancy greater than five (5) years for public use, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)

Contracts for goods and services that the city is authorized by law to provide years for public use, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)

Travel for conferences, meetings and workshops by neighborhood officials.

*NUSA travel must be approved by Council

Educational Improvements to include, schools, libraries, etc., within the specific community (e.g., supplies, equipment, and furniture)

*Funding must be coordinated with the Board of Education or other boards and the

neighborhood, and must have prior approval and a letter of interest from the School

Board or any other appropriate board.

Public transportation services

Programs/projects that are determined to serve a public purpose, and directly benefit the neighborhood residents when authorized by law.

Electronic equipment to be used to assist in informing residents about neighborhood association meetings. Examples of eligible items include, Computers and software packages printers, VCR’s /DVD’s/CD’s.

Neighborhood Information messaging services (e.g. calling posts, meeting signs, and neighborhood newsletter production to notify residents of Neighborhood Meetings.

*Electronic equipment (must be purchased through the City of Birmingham IMS

Department , no more than every 3 years) except printers

*Any stolen or lost equipment must be reported to the police department and the

report must be presented to the CRS Division

*All equipment must be returned at the end of each officer’s term

*Any Damaged equipment must be replaced by the officer

Outside decorative fixtures, banners, wreaths/lights on poles, and other fixtures as authorized by law.

*Items must be located within City’s Right of Way as approved by Traffic and

Engineering and PEP

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  • Food for Fun Days (except as authorized by the City, based on an event specific determination, if deemed a public purpose with a $500.00 maximum per year)

  • Landscaping equipment that consists of yard/lawn equipment

  • Motor Vehicles

  • Personal multi-media devices that are not used for the benefit of the neighborhood association. Examples of excluded items include cellular phones, air time, two-way radios, bull horns, iPads, electronic notebooks, internet services, and other similar items.

  • Postage fees

  • Employment of individuals

  • Incorporation of the Neighborhood Association or any other independent group, foundation, or non-profit

  • Consultant, attorney, or provider of professional services fees

  • Real property in the name of the Association or any other group nor rental fees (with the exception of facility usage fees at one specific location and storage fees)

  • Giveaways not available to the general public

  • Items, goods, or services that are generally not available to the neighborhood or general public

  • Re-sale of items purchased with neighborhood funds, such as t-shirts and caps available at Get to Know Your Neighbor Day functions.

  • Goods/services purchased without prior approval and processing of the paperwork through Community Resources Services, and Issuance of a Purchase Order from the City of Birmingham Purchasing Department will not be processed for payment. The individual purchasing the goods or services without approval will be responsible for the payment.

  • Any other items deemed ineligible by Community Resources or the City of Birmingham Law Department

As previously mentioned expenditure of public funds for neighborhoods are held to the same standard of expenditure review as of the expenditures for the City of Birmingham. As such, each neighborhood must comply with internal review procedures. In addition, no neighborhood officer has authority to enter into a contract for the purchase of goods or services or otherwise obligate City to pay any sum or money, one of the following is required:

  • An ordinance or a resolution of authorization;

  • A written declaration of signature authority from the Mayor’s Office;

  • A purchase order (“PO”) signed by the mayor vendor issued by or under the direction Mayor or his designee and the Director of Finance;

A contract must be executed by the proper municipal official to be valid. Section 11-47-5 Code of Ala. 1975. Failure to ensure that the appropriate signature authority is obtained may result in personal liability for the person(s) involved in the transaction.


The City may not exceed its corporate power. It wouldn’t be sufficient to simply state that an expenditure is made “to accomplish a public purpose” without expressly stating the legal authority and the nature of the benefit to the public. A municipality may not provide public funds to a private person or business that is not for a public purpose authorized by a local act or other law.

Any expenditure must be within the legal powers of the City and must be necessary, appropriate and consistent with the purpose of the City. To determine whether a public purpose is served, you must look to the statutes setting forth the powers of the City. If within such powers, there exists the authority to promote the action at issues, then the City need only decide whether the expenditures will help accomplish that purpose. If the ability of the City to act is subject to reasonable doubt, the power does not exist.