Jefferson County lawmakers agree on a job tax

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County lawmakers voted Tuesday to support a new occupational tax for the county and an accountability bill.

"It will avert the crisis, give the county some breathing room," said Republican Senator Steve French. "It will change how the county operates."

The job tax, originally proposed by Rep. John Rogers, sets a rate of .005, but imposes the rate for the first time on all professionals.

Some of the lawmakers objected to imposing a phase-out of the tax, while others objected to an accountability bill that forces the county commission to hire a county manager and a comptroller. Republican lawmakers said those items are a must if the county wants a new tax.

Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins said Tuesday there are constitutional questions if the job tax imposes an income tax by a state statute rather than a constitutional amendment, but legislators disagreed.

A statement from Governor Bob Riley's office said the Governor was reviewing the proposed legislation and an announcement concerning a special session will be decided once Riley is confident the legislation has enough support to pass.