Meanwhile, the city's 2010 budget deficit might now be as high as $34 million.
In particular, the budget passed this year left about $21 million of projects and city services (some of them essential) unfunded. The 2010 budget left numerous line items without revenue sources supporting them. Some of the line items included equipment leases, phone bills, and storm sewer maintenance.
Also, city department heads were never consulted during the budget-making process, Smitherman said. During the budget season, Councilor Valerie Abbott asked the former finance director whether he had consulted with department heads, Smitherman recalled Tuesday. At that time, Sayler said that he had.
Documents produced Tuesday by the mayor's office showed that Sayler knew as early as Sept. 30, that the city had not submitted a balanced budget and planned to pay for city services out of fund balance, the term for the city's savings.
Chief of Staff Deborah Vance-Bowie told the council that she had asked Sayler to produce a report on the city's financial condition in early October. She said she received that report on Oct. 16, the Friday before the beginning of Langford's public corruption trial.
Several councilors said they did not believe Sayler was the sole agent misleading the city.
"Did he do all of this in a vacuum?" Royal said. "No, I don't believe that."
Royal said that Sayler was acting out of self-preservation and that he had political pressure on him from others to produce a certain outcome, no matter if the real numbers supported it or not.
Councilor Valerie Abbott agreed with Royal and said that Sayler is being made into a scapegoat for others. Abbott said she had asked specifically about some of the issues now revealing themselves, only for the mayor to blast her out of her chair."
"I believe the fear and intimidation will be gone, and it is time for us to get some accurate information," Abbott said.
According to Smitherman, Sayler told her that Langford knew about the $21 million of unfunded line items and had told him to do what he did.
Smitherman said a new budget might be necessary to protect the city's reputation. In particular, she said she does not want people equating what is happening at Birmingham City Hall with the financial disaster at Jefferson County.
"Perception is everything," she said.
After the meeting, Smitherman said she shuddered to think what would have happened had the council passed the mayor's 2010 budget unamended. That budget would have increased the city's 2010 budget deficit by another $13 million.
"We would have run out of money," Smitherman said.