Collins says county near state of emergency

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins said Wednesday the county is approaching a state of emergency.

"Quite honestly folks we are approaching a state of emergency," Collins said. "It may be necessary to appeal to the governor to declare us in a state of emergency."

Collins says because of the loss of the job tax and declining revenues the county will be out of money and can only guarantee payroll
for July 24th.  Collins said she has asked Governor Bob Riley to declare a state of emergency and to provide assistance if the county is forced into massive layoffs.

But, a spokesman for Riley said Wednesday that may not be possible. "Legally it's not an option," said Todd Stacy, Riley's press secretary. "It's an issue that has to settled by the legislature."

Thursday, county commissioners will be looking to layoff even more county workers than those listed as unclassified.

"It's everybody who has a job here currently," said Commissioner Sheila Smoot. "It will include all workers."

Commissioner Bobby Humphryes said he will not support laying off 207 laborers unless the cuts are across the board.  He also said it may be time for the county to throw in the towel.

"I don't think we have a choice but to file bankruptcy for the whole county," Humphryes said. "That doesn't relieve us the problem of the cash we need but it gives us breathing room on these lawsuits."

Sheriff Mike Hale is waiting on a judge's ruling to determine if his budget will be cut by $5 million.  Thursday, supporters of Cooper Green Mercy Hospital will be taking the county to court to prevent cuts.