Sheriff offers budget cuts, judge wants more

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale said Thursday he has offered to cut nearly $3 million from his budget, but a judge has asked him to look for more money to cut.

Sheriff Hale, his attorneys, and attorneys for the Jefferson County Commission met behind closed doors Thursday afternoon with Judge Joseph Boohaker to discuss negotiations over the sheriff's budget.  The judge last week refused to let county commissioners take $5.1 million from the sheriff's budget, but ordered both sides to sit down and discuss ways to reduce the sheriff's budget.

After Thursday's meeting, Sheriff Hale said he offered to cut $2.9 million from his budget, but said Judge Boohaker asked him to go back and look at other cost-cutting options, including overtime. Sheriff Hale said Judge Boohaker wanted everyone to return to court next Wednesday morning.

Two weeks ago, the county commission took $5.1 million from Sheriff Hale's budget as part of its effort to reduce costs in the wake of losing millions of dollars from the county's occupational tax which another judge ruled earlier this year illegal.  Last week, though, Judge Boohaker ordered the county to put the $5.1 million back in Sheriff Hale's budget after Sheriff Hale sued saying the budget cuts were illegal and endangered the safety of county citizens.  Judge Boohaker did order both sides to sit down and discuss ways to cut the budget.