Gary Waters remembers joking with Hoover Administrator Allan Rice about possibly annexing Pelham, the city of which Waters is mayor.
“We were just joking around and I said, ‘Would you annex Pelham? It would make my life a lot easier,” Waters recounted. “He laughed and I said, ‘How about our fleet maintenance?’”
That, Waters learned, Hoover could do. Wednesday, Waters, Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato, the city councils of both cities and other officials were on hand as the cities announced that Hoover will performance maintenance on the vehicles of both cities.
Pelham shut down its fleet management department, laying off four employees. Hoover absorbed three of those staffers and Pelham pays Hoover to handle their salaries.
“We’re saving some money because we don’t have mechanics any longer,” Waters said. “We don’t have any mechanics any longer. We’re paying them for the mechanics they had to add to absorb our maintenance costs. It didn’t cost the city of Hoover anything. We’re paying for what they’re doing for us.”
Brocato said there is now a “sharing.”
“Not only are we sharing employees,” the Hoover mayor said, “but we reduced (fleet maintenance) down to just this building and Pelham will pay us a certain amount to run the operation. We expect to add more efficiency and we also expect to save money on both sides.”
Waters said Pelham citizens likely don’t think about what it takes to keep the fleet rolling. “They just want the truck to be there when they need it,” he said. “This is kind of under the radar for them. But I hope when they learn of the collaboration and the uniqueness of this relationship, I hope they feel empowered and be proud of us for doing that.
“We could keep stumbling through the dark and keep doing it the way we’ve always done it, no matter how inefficient it may be,” the Pelham mayor said. “I think this speaks well for the future and other collaborations in other areas where we can stop duplicating efforts and save a little money.”
Dustin Moore is the fleet manager in Hoover. His shop now has vehicles from Hoover and Pelham that are being serviced with neither city’s vehicles being a higher priority than the other’s.
“Public safety takes preference over everything,” he said. “As vehicles come in, they’ll be scheduled by our lead technicians and they’ll be assigned to the appropriate technician. It will be equal service on both cities. Equal priority.”
The arrangement between Hoover and Pelham displays the cost-saving opportunities available when cities cooperate with one another. Such cooperative efforts were encouraged at the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama’s 2018 “Together We Can” report on regional cooperation.