Hoover City Council adopts 2014 budget

Published 9:13 pm Monday, November 4, 2013

By CASSANDRA MICKENS / Associate Editor

HOOVER – The Hoover City Council  voted unanimously Nov. 4 to adopt Mayor Gary Ivey’s 2014 budget, but not before hearing concerns and criticism from residents opposed to the Hoover Board of Education’s decision to nix school bus service beginning next fall.

Prior to the $130 million budget adoption, Hoover resident Trisha Crain noted the council allocated $2 million to Hoover City Schools, the same amount allocated in 2013. Crain asked the council why it didn’t contribute more money to Hoover schools, especially given the bus situation. Councilman Gene Smith, also chairman of the city finance committee, explained that it would take time for the city to return to 2010 school funding levels and added that if the council could allocate more money to Hoover schools, the Board of Education would use those funds to pay down debt rather than resume bus service. School officials say financial strain led to cutting bus service.

“We don’t have the money to do any large scale additions to try to fix their problems,” Smith said. “I was told that the school board doesn’t plan to come to the city to ask for any help with its problems. They feel that they can handle it themselves.”

Smith’s answer unsettled Hoover resident Catrena Norris Carter, a single mother of three sons who attend three different Hoover schools. Carter cited the Board of Education’s talks with School Transportation Services, or STS, a third party provider, about providing bus service for affected students. Hoover Superintendent Andy Craig last month declined to provide a specific price point for a third party provider, but Carter said it would cost her $360 per month, $120 per child, to use outsourced school transportation.

“I come to you as a mother and a resident of Hoover. I moved here for my sons to have a Hoover education,” Carter said. “Hundreds and hundreds of children will not be able to get to school. Is there something someone can do to come up concrete resolutions?”

Hoover resident Robin Schultz accused the council of being “out of touch” with families who don’t have the means to pay for a third party provider or don’t have flexible enough schedules to get their children to and from school. Councilman Brian Skelton took issue with Schultz’ accusation, saying he will have to make inconvenient arrangements for his 12-year-old daughter next year.

“We will do what’s necessary. We will do whatever we have to do to get our daughter to and from school,” Skelton said.

Skelton added: “There are more cuts coming. It’s not the just the buses. They will be unpopular. They will be painful.”

Skelton did not specify where cuts could be made, but cited reducing teacher units and athletic funding as examples.