Photo by Jon Anderson
Hoover City Council 3-21-16 (2)
The Hoover City Council conducts business on Monday, March 21, 2016.
The Hoover City Council tonight approved a $6 million budget amendment that includes about $3 million in paving projects, almost $1.3 million more for Hoover schools and about $1.2 million to hire and equip 10 new police officers.
The $1.3 million extra annual contribution for Hoover schools was first approved by resolution in December and officially made a part of the budget tonight. The $3 million in paving projects and $1.2 million for more police officers were new items for consideration.
The road paving money will come from the city’s gasoline tax revenues and simply had been left out of the original 2016 budget approved in November, Finance Director Robert Yeager said.
The new money for police officers was spurred by the fatal shooting of Lake Cyrus resident Mike Gilotti outside his home in January, police Chief Nick Derzis said. That shooting, which police say was connected to a string of car burglaries in the Lake Cyrus neighborhood that morning, was a horrible tragedy that got the community more concerned about police protection, Derzis said.
City officials had been talking about adding more police officers before then, but that incident served as a catalyst to make it a reality, Derzis said.
A lot of residents wanted to see more visibility from the Police Department, Mayor Gary Ivey said. “We just felt like we needed to put some more men out there on the street,” Ivey said.
Derzis said the number of police calls for service in Hoover increased about 150 percent from 2006 to 2015 to more than 120,000 calls. “We’re a big city — 50 square miles,” he said. “We want to continue keeping our city safe. I think we do have a safe city. I think an additional 10 officers over a 24-hour period of time will certainly be beneficial to us.”
The Hoover Police Department has nearly 160 sworn police officers now, so this should give the city almost 170 sworn officers, Derzis said. It likely will take several months to hire the additional officers, get them equipped and on the streets, he said.
The $1.2 million in the budget amendment should cover all of their salaries and benefits, plus vehicles and equipment, Derzis said.
Councilman Gene Smith tonight asked the chief if every officer gets their own vehicle, and Derzis said yes. The Police Department years ago had multiple shifts using the same vehicles 24 hours a day, but that heavy use took a toll on the vehicles, Derzis said.
The department now gives each officer his own vehicle to use, and their vehicles sit idle in between officers’ shifts, which has cut down on vehicle maintenance costs, the chief said.
In other business tonight, the Hoover City Council delayed consideration of bids for a pre-engineered 145,000-square-foot metal building that will serve as the indoor facility for the new Hoover Sportsplex next to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
A resolution prepared in advance for tonight’s meeting indicated bids for the building were supposed to be opened at 1 p.m. today, but Mayor Gary Ivey said city officials decided they would need more time to consider the bids and wanted to wait until March 30 to open them and consider them.
The council decided to wait until April 4 to vote on the bids.
The council also postponed a vote on appointing a financial team to handle a bond issue to finance the Hoover Sportsplex, which was projected to cost about $70 million.
Ivey said Council President Jack Wright, who was absent tonight, asked for that vote to be postponed so he could be present for it. Because the bids for the building were postponed, a decision on the financial team was not as urgent, Ivey said.
A resolution drafted for the council to consider calls for Merchant Capital LLC, Raymond James and Piper Jaffray to be appointed as underwriters for the bond issue and for Kipling Jones & Co. to be appointed as financial advisor.
The fee structure and percentage of participation by each underwriter is to be determined once the bond issue is finalized, the resolution says.