Proposed Hoover budget cuts out school funding

If Hoover’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2009 passes, there will be no city funding for schools, said Mayor Tony Petelos.

“This is the first time that we saw a dramatic drop in our revenue. This has never happened to the city of Hoover, we’ve always had increases year after year,” he said. “It was to the point that we either laid people off or cut the funding for the schools.”

The proposed budget is for approximately $89.5 million, down from last year’s $96.7 million budget. Last year, the city gave the Hoover school system $7.5 million.

Petelos said he feels the schools have enough in their reserve fund to make up the difference, but acknowledged that the schools would have to cut back. The schools have a reserve fund of over $120 million, one of the highest in the state, he said.

“We’re going to survive this,” he said. “We’re going to have to tighten our belt, and they’re going to have to tighten their belt.”

Petelos said his plan is to make the fiscal year 2010 budget identical to the fiscal year 2009 budget, which would mean that the schools would do without city funding for at least two years.

The proposed budget also calls for no new jobs citywide, no new capital projects save those that have already had money set aside for them, a salary freeze to begin Oct. 1 of this year, reduced operating expenses in every department and a cutback on travel. The city will also ask employees that have family insurance coverage to pay an extra $100 a month for insurance.

Petelos said it was necessary to make changes to combat the city’s declining revenues.

“We’ve been monitoring our revenue stream, and it’s been going downhill. I waited so late because I wanted to wait until we bottomed out so that we could develop a budget,” he said. “But we still haven’t bottomed out. We’re still going in the wrong direction as far as revenue.”

Petelos said he feels the public is disappointed with the loss of school funding, but understands the budget is down.

“A lot of folks are sympathetic. They realize our funding is down. They understand, but they’re disappointed that we are unable to fund the schools,” he said. “I myself am disappointed.”

He said Hoover citizens need to band together to help provide for the schools, especially with a realistic view of the future.

“As a community, we need to look at what we can do for the schools,” he said. “I don’t think sales tax levels will ever come back to the level we used to have.”