Jefferson County lawmakers to meet Tuesday

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Rodger Smitherman, (D) Birmingham, and Alabama Senate Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner, (R) Vestavia Hills, on Good Day Alabama Tuesday morning (WBRC video)
Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Rodger Smitherman, (D) Birmingham, and Alabama Senate Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner, (R) Vestavia Hills, on Good Day Alabama Tuesday morning (WBRC video)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - State lawmakers from Jefferson County will meet Tuesday to see if they all support a new occupational tax for the county.

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Rodger Smitherman, (D) Birmingham, and Alabama Senate Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner, (R) Vestavia Hills, both said Tuesday morning on Good Day Alabama they are confident a bill will be ready by the end of the day.

"We are seeing very good support," Smitherman said. "There are lots of good elements for a plan."

Monday, Rep. John Rogers had an occupational tax bill which seemed to have the most support of the delegation.

"It allows them to get the money immediatley," Rogers said. "It bails them out  right now. It won't take a long time to do this."

Rogers' bill taxes everyone at 0.45 percent including, for the first time, professionals. The bill also calls for a referendum in 2012 and a phase out by 2017 if the vote fails.

Waggoner said Tuesday the bill has a "fragile consensus."

"If people start tinkering with this bill, it could fall apart quickly," Waggoner said.

Rep. Greg Canfield and Rep. Paul Demarco continued Monday meeting with their fellow lawmakers about including an accountability bill with any new tax. The Republican lawmakers said their voters demand it.

"Simply reinstating the occupational tax is the short term fix," said Demarco. "They want to see changes in the way county government operates."

"If a tax has to be passed it must have a vote of the people," said Canfield.

The lawmakers also want the bill to force the county to hire a county manager by 2011 and a comptroller after October of this year to oversee all county payments.

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale hopes to get the new job tax passed.  The sheriff is battling county commissioners in court who want to cut his budget by more than $4 million.

"If they would have heard the telephone calls and they could go to the barber shops with me and go to the doctor with me, and hear the voices of citizens in the county and have they feel about safety," Hale said.