We increase our taxes to screw each other

UAB Medical WestI apologize for using the word ‘screw’ in the title, but I can’t find a more appropriate term.

Why is there so little job growth in Birmingham?  Well, look no further than what appears to be happening in Hoover.

How do you feel about tax increases?

How about tax increases to stab your neighbors in the back?

According to the Hoover Sun, Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato announced the city is in talks to relocate UAB Medical West from Bessemer to Hoover.

The hospital relocation is not a done deal and Brocato declined to name the entity the city is trying to attract, but he asked the council to consider committing $20 million to provide land, building site preparation, utilities and traffic improvements to help lure a $300 million project he said would bring more than 1,000 jobs to Hoover.

According to the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ), the recommendation came at the same meeting Brocato proposed a 1-cent sales tax increase, as well as a lodging tax increase, to shore up the city’s finances. The Hoover City Council has since countered with a 1/2 percent sales tax increase.

Hoover City Councilman John Lyda deserves Nobel Prize

When interviewed about the possible incentives, Hoover City Councilman John Lyda got it exactly right.

While declining to name the company involved in the project, Lyda told the Birmingham Business Journal “he has reservations about a potential tax increase being used to lure an existing organization from another location in the metro area.”

“Is it really economic development if you are A) raising taxes and B) luring a business already in the metro area to your city?” Lyda said. “It’s time regional cooperation is more than a buzzword. Somebody has to do it and say we’re not going to offer incentives to lure businesses from our neighbors.”

Lyda said employees of the undisclosed company are already in the region, so he questioned whether the necessary return on investment is there to commit $20 million.

If Hoover wants to invest $20 million in economic development, it should recruit businesses from out of state.

Hooray for Councilman Lyda

This is absolutely the first time I’ve heard a local politician who understands and is willing to announce publicly how zany it is for us to steal businesses from each other and call that economic development.

I’m not against Medical Center West moving to Hoover

I’m not against Medical Center West moving to Hoover. This is a free country and if the hospital administration feels it’s in its best interest—then that’s the decision it has every right to make.

But should we increase our taxes to help fund their move?

Hoover should be sensitive

Two years ago Irondale gave the Hoover Nick Saban Mercedes dealership  $13 million in incentives to move to Irondale.

The dealership recently opened in Irondale and Hoover is losing that tax revenue.

Our sister city, Bessemer, has been suffering for years. It’s just celebrated the announcement of an Amazon fulfillment center and 1,500 new jobs.

There is no way, however, to rationalize Hoover tax payers possibly spending $20 million to take away Bessemer’s healthcare and 1,000 jobs.

To justify Hoover’s effort to recruit Medical Center West, I’ve been told that UAB had planned to move the hospital out of Bessemer regardless of Hoover’s actions. That’s speculation and Medical Center West has made no public announcement one way or the other.

But Hoover raising taxes and then using some of that money to entice a hospital from one of its neighbors doesn’t sound like progress for our region–in fact, that might be what’s wrong with our region.

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter. There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham. dsher@amsher.com

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4 thoughts on “We increase our taxes to screw each other”

  1. We definitely need to start thinking as a metro area. The author says Hoover should recruit a business from out of state. It would also be okay to recruits from another part of this state that is outside the metro area.

  2. Good for City Councilman John Lyda! Hoover already has a plethora of medical options at its disposal. Bessemer just has this one. We would be doing Bessemer and its people a disservice to take that away from them.

    Let’s keep moving forward with doing what’s best for our neighbors. A rising tide lifts all boats.

  3. David, I always look forward to your stories and your insight, but I’m afraid you’ve been led down the wrong path on this one. Not all of the details of this story are public and one of the major details that really sheds light on what’s happening here are the adaptive re-use plans for the current facility to bring much needed specialty programs like mental health care to west Jefferson. The new facility, which has two possible locations would double the footprint that Med West has in the area and would provide more care opportunities whether it is built in McCalla or Hoover. UAB wants to invest more in the western side of the county due to the population explosion. Having two facilities within a 12 mile radius that can work in tandem does exactly the opposite of what your article implies in that it DOES foster regional cooperation. All of this would have, and still may come to light in 30 days had Lyda not tried to blow the deal for all parties involved.

    1. If UAB believes that they need to build a new hospital in the western part of the county they are going to do it whether they get $20 million from Hoover taxpayers or not. They might not build it in Hoover but they are going to build it in the western part of the county somewhere.

      Once the $20 million is given to UAB it can not be used to attract a business from outside the metro area who is considering multiple metro areas and grow the pie instead of just moving the parts around. I guess we can keep doing things the way we have always done it and continue to expect a different outcome but I would bet against that.

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