Collins: Hundreds of layoffs likely

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Commission President Bettye Fine Collins said Tuesday hundreds of county employees will likely lose their jobs as a result of budget cuts.

Collins made the statement after the county commission voted unanimously Tuesday morning to cut the current fiscal budget by $31 million.

The county is being forced to cut its budget after a judge earlier this year declared the county's occupational tax illegal. The county commission and state lawmakers from Jefferson County were scheduled to meet Wednesday morning to discuss the budget crisis and possible ways to restore the lost revenue.

Collins said without the lost revenue restored, the county must cut its budget, which would likely include hundreds of county employee layoffs.

County commissioners were scheduled to meet Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at Vulcan Park with state lawmakers from Jefferson County to discuss the lost revenue and possible solutions to the budget crisis.

Included in Tuesday's vote was $5.1 million in cuts to the sheriff's department budget.  Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale filed a lawsuit shortly after the vote Tuesday morning against the county commission in an effort to stop the commission from cutting more than $5 million from his budget.

Sheriff Hale filed the lawsuit in circuit court in Bessemer Tuesday morning, asking the court for a temporary restraining order against the county commission to prevent the cuts from taking effect.  Sheriff Hale has said any cuts to the budget would jeopardize the safety of citizens in the county and were illegal.