Hoover City Council ponders how to address projected budget deficits

by

by

Comments (14)

Comment Feed

Re: Budget Deficits

Is there enough use of the Hoover Express to warrant continuing the service? How much does the operation, maintenance, insurance, etc. cost for that vehicle? I observed this vehicle in Vestavia last Monday heading north with no passengers; just the driver.

Caleb Halstead 72 days ago

Hoover Express

The Hoover Express is provided for senior citizens over the age of 55 who do not have transportation of their own. It is driven by volunteers and takes seniors for doctor appointments, shopping and errands. Perhaps the day you saw it, the driver was on his way to pick someone up after their appointment. This is a valuable service provided to our senior citizens who have no other way to get to these appointments and errands.

Meredith 70 days ago

Cut expenses

If our family budget had more money going out than coming in, we would cut expenses. Why should government be any different? Each department can see where expenses can be cut and they don't need to hire an expensive firm to tell them where!
Hold off on giving raises. (My husband hasn't had a raise in 4 years and his cost for health insurance increased twice! That's real life in the private sector.) If any employees leave because of that, you will be able to replace them with competent people, I'm sure. Remember the old saying that no one is irreplaceable. Increase the premium employees pay for health insurance like the private sector does. Stop the needless travel to conferences, etc. Be less generous with tax breaks for businesses to locate here. Consider raising property taxes, not sales taxes which hurt poorer citizens the most. Market empty storefronts aggressively and stop allowing builders to build more shopping centers which we don't need. Let's fill up the ones we already have!
Broker better contracts with suppliers. They need the business, so it's not likely that they will refuse to sell it to you at a lower price. Don't fill those empty job slots. Look closely at every request for funding and say no sometimes like we do in our household. And to our citizens, I say Shop In Hoover and don't give sales tax to other municipalities!

Meredity 73 days ago

Employee Heath Ins Premiums

I'm pretty shocked that the city employee's heath insurance premiums haven't increased since 2009, especially considering how much everyone else's premiums have skyrocketed... And Middlebrooks' response to this is "he likes that Hoover has taken care of its employees..." and "he doesn’t want city employees to have bear the burden of the city’s financial troubles on their backs". The lack of health insurance premium increases have actually contributed to the city's financial problems, and Middlebrooks seems oblivious to that fact. The employee's health insurance costs have skyrocketed since 2009, and the city has placed all of that burden on the taxpayer. The city employees need to chip in to cover their own health insurance costs just like everyone else who lives in this country. If the premium increase is on average $100 per employee, that's almost $1,000,000 per year in lowered costs for the city. And I don't think $100 per month is too much to ask for people who have had the same premiums since 2009.

Lisa P 73 days ago

Priorities

While this might be oversimplified, as with household budgets the city must spend where it helps the most RESIDENTS. Police, fire, and garbage service serves 90,000 (approx.) residents. Library serves 65,000 residents, Hoover Schools serves 14,000 residents, recreation centers 9,000 (approx.). These numbers indicate where the dollars should be spent. Defer construction on additional sport facilities as they serve the fewest residents. Hoover School facilities are currently some of the best in the state and serve our student population well. Stop offering businesses multi-year tax breaks to locate here and raise building permit fees on all construction. Hoover appears to many as a city that has become too pro-business at the expense of local residents. Former Councils put us in this position. Shame on them! But it is the current administration' responsibility to find ways bale us out of this uncomfortable situation.

LauraLee 73 days ago

I agree

I agree on all of your points. Hoover needs to think of itself as a residential city first. I think Hoover schools serves more than just 14,000 residents....this doesn't account for the parents of kids and residents who work for the schools (one of the largest employers)....number is probably more like 40,000.

NateP 73 days ago

Impact Fees

Dramatically increase impact fees for new construction. Demand to live in Hoover is high and people will be willing to pay the additional increase in home prices. If not, growth will slow which will decrease city and school expenses. Either way, it addresses the problems.

TWC 73 days ago

No 1% Sales Tax increase

If you want to see people find places other than Hoover to buy things just keep raising the sales tax. A cut in the budget to match revenue would be the smart move.

Ron 73 days ago

Tax increase

I read that Homewood and Vestavia have increased sales tax. Where Do we go to find lower tax? I am not willing to drive to Calera to save a few cents.

J. Ingle 73 days ago

Suggestions on where to cut?

It needs to be a balanced approach. Are there things that could be cut? Yes, but there seems to be an inherent problem (compared to other localities) that revenue growth in Hoover has not kept pace with inflation and costs. Even if you freeze or cut spending, inflationary cost of base services is outpacing revenue. You will be in the same position in the future.

Some localities in the article have higher sales taxes but also managed to have revenue growth in excess of inflation. Yes, you can always purchase online....but having a slightly higher sales tax isn't going to change your decision whether you buy online or not. That decision has already been made.

Real development in Hoover continues to be a problem. For example, the Panera Bread and AT&T wireless store that just relocated across the street. This leaves a vacancy in their former locations. Or the empty grocery stores.

Some suggestions to help pay what the city committed to (Finley Center, Education):

Increase fees on new development (residential and commercial). Permanently index the permits and fees to inflation. Give the tax break to occupying, modifying existing vacant locations.

Study and maybe implement increased fees on use of the Finley Center by events, since the Finley Center is not self sufficient. Maybe a small percentage increase wouldn't impact event traffic and can help close the gap.

Change the Hoover employee contribution to healthcare premiums to a percentage based approach. (i.e city pays 70%, employee pays 30%). I'm not sure what percentage the employee pays now...but looking at the employee portion amounts they are much below market rate. No increase since 2009 is not fair to taxpayers. That said, you need to be more conscious about inflationary raises moving forward to help offset the health premium increases.

If there is still a gap, then consider an appropriate sales tax increase. Maybe 0.5% would be enough.

My fear is if you start cutting services that people like about Hoover, population will choose to live elsewhere which will impact everything in the city.

NateP 73 days ago

No 1% Sales Tax Increase

Please publish the $11m spent list Hoover Sun!

Hoover Resident 73 days ago

Article lists most

3.2 for Finley
2.4 for schools
2.5 for employee healthcare
Total 8.1 million of 11.7 million.

So 3.6 million unaccounted for, which the articles states was offset by some other cuts.

NateP 73 days ago

$3.6m

What was that spent on?

Hoover Resident 73 days ago

Don't Know

Not sure. Hoover Sun might be able to expand upon this.

I'm speculating its not a true 3.6m expense since the mayor's report stated they offset some of the increase by cutting elsewhere. Even so, the revenue projection shortfall exceeds $3.6 million. So even if all of the 3.6m is eliminated there is still a shortfall.

NateP 73 days ago