Hoover tax numbers decline

Hoover’s tax revenues for the last four months dropped 8 percent from the same time period last year, said Mayor Tony Petelos.

From October 2008-January 2009, the city took in $19.3 million of sales tax revenue, while from October 2007-January 2008, Hoover took in $21 million.

Petelos said he wasn’t surprised to see the numbers drop.

“With the way the economy is, we were expecting this,” he said. “But it could have been a lot worse. I’m glad it’s only 8 percent.”

For the past year, the city has been working to save money.

“We started back in the spring of last year knowing we were not going to reach expectations. We’ve been cutting and watching how we spend our money,” Petelos said.

The city has restricted travel for city employees, cut down on overtime pay by changing shift hours and kept operating costs down in an effort to keep money in the bank.

“By doing that, we’re able to handle the shortfall in this economy,” he said.

Now that the City Council knows the revenue numbers, a budget should be ready to pass in April, Petelos said.

The mayor said he expects some new businesses to help bring in revenue. Two new shopping centers opening late this year, including The Grove on Highway 150 and Chace Lake on Highway 31, should help boost tax revenues, and the city’s lodging tax numbers have actually gone up.

“We still have growth. The fact that we haven’t borrowed money and the fact that we’ve been very careful, we’re going to be able to weather this storm,” Petelos said.

Hoover just finished its last scheduled capital project, the expansion of the Hoover Public Library, which will help to save money. There is an upcoming road project on Municipal Drive, but the money for that is already set aside, so the city won’t take a hit, Petelos said.

Despite the city’s $31 million in uncommitted money in the reserve fund, Petelos said he still has to be cautious.

“Just like every business in America, every household in America, we’re very careful and very cautious,” he said. “I feel comfortable because we have a reserve, we have two major developments under construction. We’re in much better shape today than most cities in America.”