The Hoover City Council tonight voted 6-1 to pass the mayor’s proposed $148 million budget for fiscal 2016.
Councilman John Greene cast the lone vote against the budget, saying he thinks the city should contribute more than $2 million toward Hoover City Schools.
After the meeting, Greene elaborated briefly. “I just think in general that the city can do better than putting less than 2 percent of a $148 million budget to city schools,” he said. “We can do better than that.”
Hoover officials are always touting how good their schools are, said Greene, whose wife is an assistant superintendent with the school system.
“We’ve got to start putting some more money toward that,” Greene said. “We’ve got to start putting our money where our mouth is.”
Hoover Mayor Gary Ivey said after tonight’s meeting that he didn’t want to get into a debate with Greene but said he has had extensive conversations with Hoover schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy “and I haven’t heard that comment from her.”
Ivey said he also hasn’t heard that comment from other Hoover residents, except Bluff Park resident Dan Fulton, who frequently calls on the council to increase funding for Hoover schools.
Fulton tonight commended Greene for his vote against the budget.
“Many of us feel that Hoover schools is our most valuable resource,” said Fulton, a retired teacher from Birmingham City Schools. “You have got to find the money for these schools. Surely your legacy, Mayor Ivey, is that you’ve failed the Hoover schools. Don’t let that be your legacy.”
Ivey said there was only one change made in the budget since he first presented it to the City Council on Oct. 5. Originally, he had set aside $3 million for the first of three $3 million payments to Hoover City Schools for the purchase of the former Berry High School property on Columbiana Road.
But the City Council rescinded its offer to buy the 35-acre campus on Nov. 2 after school officials indicated they needed more time to review whether the campus could be used for educational purposes before disposing of it.
Plus, the date of the first proposed payment to Hoover City Schools passed on Oct. 1.
Ivey took the $3 million that was to go to Hoover schools for the Berry High property and reallocated it to go toward a future sports complex for the city. City officials allocated $2 million for a new sports complex in fiscal 2015 and have not yet spent that money, so that fund is now at $5 million, according to a memo from Ivey to the council.
Ivey said city officials are eyeing three or four potential sites for a new sports complex but have not settled on a site yet. The city needs more space for all types of sports, including soccer, lacrosse and baseball, Ivey said. "Ours are just overrun," he said.
The $148 million budget passed for fiscal 2016, which began Oct. 1, includes millions of dollars for improvements to roads, parks, sewer systems and city buildings.
It’s just 1 percent more than the original budget that was passed for fiscal 2015 a year ago.
The 2016 budget includes just shy of $100 million in expenditures from the general fund, which is about $4.2 million more the original 2015 budget. The budget also includes $21.4 million for new capital projects, $18.5 million from proprietary funds such as the sewer system fund and $7.9 million from the city’s special revenue fund, which contains earmarked money from sources such as gasoline taxes.
Total revenues for 2016 are projected to come in at $127 million. The $21 million difference between revenues and expenditures will come out of the city’s fund balance, which is estimated to have $57 million at the start of the fiscal year and $36 million at the end of the fiscal year.
The capital budget has about $4.4 million for road improvement projects, including $1.5 million for improvements and sidewalks on Old Columbiana Road, $750,000 for improvements along Braddock Drive from Lorna Road, and $300,000 for pavement repairs and resurfacing on Atkins-Trimm Boulevard.
The capital budget also contains more than $3 million for parks and recreation projects. That includes $647,500 in renovations and improvements to the Hoover Recreation Center, $615,000 to build a large open-area park with a parking lot and walking trail near the Cahaba River in Riverchase, $525,000 for improvements to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (including a new electronic video board), $305,000 in improvements to Hoover Sports Park West, $250,500 in improvements to Hoover Sports Park East, and $140,000 in improvements to the sports complex at Spain Park.
The capital budget also includes almost $3 million in upgrades to the police and fire dispatch communications and computer systems, $2.5 million for renovations to the Hoover Municipal Center, $1.87 million for sewer system improvements, and $1.5 million to replace the second half of the roof at the Hoover Public Safety Center.
The budget includes $2.4 million for 47 vehicles, all but three of which are replacement vehicles. The three new vehicles would include a 7-passenger Dodge Caravan for the library and two new trucks for two new building inspectors the mayor proposes to hire.
About 58 percent of the city’s $100 million general fund is designated for personnel, including money for eight new full-time employees and 12 new part-time positions that together are expected to cost $863,000.
New full-time positions being added include three public safety telecommunicators, two building inspectors, an electrician, a revenue auditor and an administrative assistant. New part-time jobs included in the budget are five firefighters, two reserve police officers, a detention officer, a police records specialist, a library assistant, a library page and two seasonal crew workers.
Some of those new jobs are positions that the city eliminated through attrition during tougher economic times, Hoover Finance Director Robert Yeager said. The revenue auditor likely will generate three times as much money as it will cost to pay his or her salary and benefits, Yeager said.
The 2016 budget also includes $347,000 worth of upgrades in employee pay and/or hours, including a $20,000 pay raise for the municipal court director and $17,000 pay raise for the city clerk. About $2 million of the $3.2 million increase for personnel is for step pay increases, Yeager said.
See more actions from the Hoover City Council tonight here, including rights-of-way agreements for new sidewalks in Bluff Park.