Hoover declares state of emergency, freezes hiring and some expenditures

HOOVER – Hoover’s City Council declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that includes a freeze on hiring, budget amendments, travel and capital expenditures.

“In light of the public health emergency currently existing within the state and in the city of Hoover, the Hoover City Council desires to enact certain measures to utilize its resources to the fullest extent during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” read the resolution that was approved by a 4-3 vote and after much discussion about the measures it dictates.

The state of emergency declaration includes:

  • A hold placed on all capital expenditures unless such expenditures are to be paid under existing contractual obligations.
  • A freeze on hiring for approved positions that are vacant and where no offer had been made as of the date of the resolution. The Council will review special circumstances.
  • A freeze on all capital and general fund budget amendments.
  • A freeze on all travel and conferences of city employees.

“The City Council anticipates revisiting the measures set forth in this resolution once the City Council has a better understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the city of Hoover,” the resolution stated. “As the city continues to monitor the local economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the Council may at a later date and if necessary, consider a 10-percent cut to the city’s operational budget.”

Councilmen John Lyda, Curt Posey, Mike Shaw and Gene Smith voted in favor of the resolution; while Councilmen John Greene, Casey Middlebrooks and Derrick Murphy voted against.

Lyda said the Council must maintain sound fiscal policy in uncertain economic times.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in the room who would raise their hand and say they believe there will be no impact on the city of Hoover,” Lyda said about the pandemic.

Middlebrooks questioned whether the measure would affect any of the city’s current employees and was assured it would not.

“I think some of the city employees may be concerned going forward, and I want assurances that no one is going to not be paid during this time,” Middlebrooks said. “No one is losing their job. No one is losing their hours.”

Greene and Murphy said they would not support the resolution because its necessity and effects are uncertain.

Mayor Frank Brocato and other city staff members also raised concerns about the state of emergency resolution, especially the hiring freeze.

Hoover’s police chief, fire chief and 911 director each addressed the Council about vacancies in their department that need to be filled.

Brocato also said city leadership should have flexibility to act as necessary as the situation develops.

“We don’t need to have our hands tied in any way, shape, form or fashion,” he said.

But ultimately, the Council decided the measures were necessary.

“This is not business as usual,” Shaw said. “The time is now. We’ve got to take some action.”