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Study shows Birmingham's city government is gigantic

The Alabama Policy Institute (API), an Alabama-based conservative think tank, today released an in-depth study that compares the governments of Alabama’s four largest cities: Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile and Huntsville.

What did the study find? Birmingham is a picture of government gone wild.

Birmingham’s population has fallen by 38% over the past fifty years, but the size and cost of the city’s government operations have shot through the roof. The city currently employs roughly 21 employees per 1,000 residents. That is more than any city of similar size in the United States. Comparable cities get along with an average of 11.3 city employees per 1,000 residents.

In order to prop up Birmingham’s enormous government, each resident of the city has to fork over almost $1,000 more per year than residents of other cities of comparable size.

And the city government’s growth does not appear to be slowing down.

Birmingham’s operating expenses have increased 162% since the year 2000, and they spend more than any other similar city on general government operations, public safety and public works.

To make matters worse, Birmingham residents are some of the least able to afford their overburdensome government. The city’s per capita income is $18,507, far below the average of $23,421 of comparable cities.

Although none of Alabama’s largest cities are shining examples of conservative government, Montgomery is in the best shape of the four cities covered in the API study.

Montgomery’s per capita spending on government operations is slightly below the average of cities of similar size. Their staff level is among the lowest compared to similar cities. And their spending on public safety and public works is below average to average.

Mobile’s population shrank almost 2% over the past decade, but their spending increased almost 26%. That’s actually lower than comparable cities which increased their spending an average of 43% over the same period of time.

However, Mobile’s per capita spending on general government operations has increased over 97% since 2000. As a result, Mobile had to bring in the third highest amount of revenue (from taxes, licenses and fees) per capita compared to similarly sized cities around the country.

Huntsville is the only one of Alabama’s four largest cities to experience a significant population bump since 2000. It’s population increase of 13.8% made it the second fastest growing city in the country when compared to cities of similar size.

Huntsville’s high number of city employees caused them to spend approximately $69 million per year more than comparable cities. Among those cities Huntsville also brought in the third highest per capita revenue from taxes.

Click HERE to read API’s full report.

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