Commission at odds about budget cuts

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County Commissioners refused to consider a new $31 million budget cutting plan on Thursday. In an agenda setting meeting, the commissioners did not sign off on voting on the budget reduction next week.

Commissioner Jim Carns says he needed more time to consider the plan. "One of the questions is if all five commissioners have cut their budgets by 33%, like I have done."

Commissioner Bobby Humphryes says he will not vote for a plan which could lead to the layoffs of 200 hourly workers. "If we are going bankrupt we will go bankrupt. I'm not going to make the hourly workers bear the brunt of this by themselves."

The proposed cuts include a total of $31.7 million. $5.8 million for Environmental Services, $5.1 million for the Sheriff's office, $3.8 Million dollars for Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.

Three signatures are needed to put an item on the commission agenda without going through a committee. Only Commissioners Shelia Smoot and Bettye Fine Collins signed the resolution.

Commissioner William Bell, an ally of Collins and Smoot, refused to sign it after Carns and Humphryes balked, "We either are going to sick together or rise together. I refuse to sign it and get into a political battle between these two gentlemen while the county goes down the drain.

The county attorney wanted all five commissioners to back the resolution. It's not known when the commission will reconsider the resolution.