Jefferson County courthouses closed after Friday

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Long lines greeted hundreds of Jefferson County taxpayers Thursday who tried to make payments before all of the county's satellite courthouses were to be shut down after Friday.

Jefferson County is putting 67 percent of it's work force on administrative leave without pay and closing all of its satellite courthouses to help it deal with the loss of millions of dollars in lost revenue from the occupational tax, which was ruled illegal earlier this year.

Thursday, Jefferson County commissioners said expect the long lines at the main courthouse to get worse.

"It will look vastly different than what it looks now," said Commissioner William Bell. "You can expect lines to double or triple. You will have only skeletal staff in most of the offices."

"There is nothing you can tell somebody when they are going through something like this other than you can feel their pain," said Commissioner Jim Carns. "That doesn't  make them feel any better when they miss their house payments, car payments and child support payment."

Even with budget cuts and administrative leave, the county cannot gurantee it will make payroll August 21st. That is why the commissioners are looking at other cuts, including a proposal to suspend the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which pays benefits to pregnant workers on leave.

"We are looking at ways to address  that issue but legally we have to take this next step," Bell said. "Hopefully we can find a way around it."

Jefferson County employees could be on administrative leave without pay up to six weeks.

"If we could do it today, we would have done it today, but we can't do it that quickly." said Commissioner Bobby Humphryes.  "Just try to hang in there. We will work on it to get them back as soon as possible."

Jefferson County lawmakers are scheduled to meet next Tuesday to see if they will support a new occupational tax to end the county's financial crisis.