Jeffco Commission and Sheriff at odds again

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The budget battle between Jefferson County commissioners and Sherriff Mike Hale takes center stage once again.

Attorneys for both the County Commission and Sheriff Hale met in chambers with Judge Joseph Boohaker on Wednesday morning.  On Tuesday, the County Commission voted to cut $4.1 from the Sheriff's budget. Due to this, the Sheriff's attorneys have asked for the County Commission to be held in contempt of court for trying to cut more money from the Sheriff's budget. The Commission is saying that they must make a bigger cut due to the financial crisis.

Judge Boohaker has ruled that the injunction will stay and has ordered both sides to return to the negotiation table.

"We will continue to negotiate in good faith and see if there is any way to keep the deputy sheriffs protecting this county", says Hale when referring to a return to negotiations. Sheriff Hale says that if the money had been cut from his budget, 177 deputies would have lost their jobs.

It was several weeks ago when a judge blocked the commission from cutting the sheriff's budget by five million dollars. Last week, Sheriff Hale offered to reduce his budget by almost three million dollars, but Commission President Bettye Fine Collins claims it is not enough.

Sheriff Hale said he has tried twice to meet with the commission since their last negotiation session on Thursday and has been denied twice. He says that lack of communication could be considered contempt of court because of a judge's order for the two sides to negotiate on any cuts.

The county commission's argument is that they do not have enough money and need to make the cuts. They say they may not even be able to make payroll on August 21st.

Notices of administrative leave will be sent out Wednesday and picked up by Jefferson County employees. It is expected that 67% of the County's workforce will be placed on leave.