Court rules JeffCo cannot use occ. tax

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A major blow to Jefferson County on Wednesday when the Alabama Supreme Court refused to allow the county to continue to spend money from the occupational tax while the legality of the tax is appealed.

"Things are proceeding as we have to. We have a reduction in revenue. We are having a reduction in work force and services. There is no other way to do it," said Commissioner Jim Carns.

Attorneys Jim McFerrin and Sam Hill filed the lawsuit challenging the county job tax. "I hate to say it. I think this is a situation is a result of the county commissioners decision not to discuss ending this on favorable terms to be blunt."

Jefferson County is already looking at a 32-hour work week. This is trimming the salary of hourly workers by 20%. Jefferson County Commissioners say the high court ruling will lead to layoffs.

"We will not be able to go into the budget year, even with the 32-hour work week without layoffs. There will be layoffs coming," said Commissioner Bobby Humphryes.

On Wednesday, the president of Jefferson County Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said all county lawmakers are being put on notice to support a solution to the job tax problem. "The SCLC is urging all legislators to met together and solve this problem," said SCLC President Calvin Woods.

Birmingham Senator Rodger Smitherman has called for a meeting of the entire legislative delegation to discuss the issue at a Friday meeting. So far the delegation is split over a new job tax about whether professionals should be included or not.

Meanwhile, a meeting about Jefferson County's job tax is set for Friday. Lawmakers have been divided over including professionals such as lawyers and doctors in any new tax. A new job tax failed to pass the last legislative session.

Birmingham Representative John Rogers says he has no intention of attending the meeting. "I won't be there. I came with a legal bill that could have passed on the last day of the session," said Rep. John Rogers. Rogers demands professionals be included in any new tax.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled this Jefferson County can not continue to spend the occupational tax money while the case in on appeal. This means a loss of up to six million dollars a month.

Other members of the delegation say the group has to come together."We should be able to sit down, put aside our differences and come up with what's best for Jefferson County," said Rep. Rod Scott.

The chapter president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is putting all lawmakers on notice."The people are not going to tolerate it. We may have to consider a recall. Consider that if they are not going to service the people," said SCLC President, Calvin Woods. Woods expects the delegation to come together and support a new job tax so that layoffs and service cuts can be prevented.

On Thursday, Jefferson County Commissioners will meet to discuss a new round of cuts of up to $31 million. The new cuts could lead to several hundred county employees losing their jobs.