Judge lifts budget injunction against county - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Judge lifts budget injunction against county

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale talks to reporters Tuesday after a judge lifts an injunction against the county, allowing the county commission to cut his budget (WBRC video) Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale talks to reporters Tuesday after a judge lifts an injunction against the county, allowing the county commission to cut his budget (WBRC video)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Circuit Judge Joseph Boohaker on Tuesday lifted his injunction against the Jefferson County Commission, allowing commissioners to cut the sheriff's budget as they needed.

Judge Boohaker lifted the preliminary injunction during a hearing Tuesday morning, but urged both sides to continue negotiating.

"We are in this together in Jefferson County," Judge Boohaker said.

The decision allows the county commission to cut more than $4 million from Sheriff Mike Hale's budget as part of its efforts to balance its budget without revenue from the occupational tax.

Jim Priester, the attorney for the county commission, said he was pleased with the judge's ruling and hopes Sheriff Mike Hale will be a "team player" with the county during the budget crisis.

"We wish the sheriff would be a team player and share his ex-officio funds like the district attorney and assistant district attorney did," Priester said.  "We can't sink one department to save another."

The ex-officio funds are dollars earned from permits and warrants.

After the ruling, Sheriff Hale said he will do everything he can do to keep from laying off deputies.

"I'll write a check myself to the deputies if I have to," Hale said.

Hale said he would continue to reach out to the county commission to work on budget concerns, but he also said it was time "to quit switching my legs."

"The outlaws are looking," Hale said. "We need to fund public safety. We're going to take care of the citizens of Jefferson County."

Hale said he felt like he had enough money to continue services at existing levels until early September.  He said at that point, if the courts or the legislature had not resolved the county's occupational tax funding, he would look at cutbacks in services or staff.

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