Sheriff, county continue budget talks

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Closed door negotiations continued Monday morning between attorneys for Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale and the County Commission over plans to cut more than $4 million from the sheriff's budget, a move attorneys for the sheriff say would force them to turn over county 911 calls to state troopers.

Attorneys for both sides resumed budget negotiations Monday morning and were scheduled to contin.  The two sides were forced last week to continue negotiating after Judge Joseph Boohaker refused to let the county commission cut $4.1 million from the sheriff's budget.

At issue in Monday's talks were the sheriff's ex-officio funds, which includes money collected from gun permits, serving warrants, and other permits.

Rob Riley, an attorney for Sheriff Hale, said the sheriff is willing to loan $4.1 million to the county, but only if the county commission agrees to payback the loan as soon as possible.  Attorneys for the county commission said they are unwilling to make that committment.

The county commission is pushing to reach a memorandum of understanding with the sheriff over the funding Monday so the commission can vote on it Tuesday morning, which would allow Judge Boohaker to lift his injunction.

Riley said if the county succeeds in cutting $4.1 million from the sheriff's budget, then the sheriff will have no choice but to turn over all patrols and 911 calls in Jefferson County to state troopers.

The budget cuts are part of the county commission's plan to reduce millions of dollars from its budget after a judge earlier this year declared the county's occupational tax illegal.  Judge Boohaker said Monday morning he had heard the Alabama Supreme Court would rule on the county's appeal of the judge's ruling by mid-September.  County commissioners are also asking state lawmakers to pass a new occupational tax.  State lawmakers from Jefferson County are scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss a compromise plan.