No word yet on special session

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Gov. Bob Riley did not decide Friday afternoon whether or not to call state lawmakers into special session to consider a new occupational tax for Jefferson County.

Riley said Friday he was trying to get assurances before calling a special session of the legislature to end Jefferson County's financial crisis.

"We are going to have to feel very comfortable we can get in and get out in five days,"said Riley.

A bill proposed Friday by Rep. John Rogers would tax all professionals on their net income, not gross as reported on Thursday. Under Rogers' plan, the tax rate would fall to 0.45 percent.

In addition, Rogers' bill would mandate a public referendum in 2012 on whether or not to keep the tax and, if the vote fails, a phase out of the tax by 2017. Rogers said Friday his bill no longer leaves the Jefferson County Commission in charge of phasing out the tax.

Rogers met with Riley Friday, telling him there was majority support for the tax.

"I worked with a lot of legislators in the House and Senate," said Rogers. "They are also confident we can get this bill passed."

But there were some county lawmakers Friday who said they have problems with the tax bill.

"If I had to vote today, I would vote no," said Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale. "We are not putting things in place to straighten out county in the long run."

Rep. Jack Williams of Vestavia Hills said he may vote in favor of the tax, but only under certain conditions.

"We will have to the accountability measures in place," said Williams. "The county manager will have to be there. The comptroller is very important part of this."

Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins said Friday she had doubts the special session would be successful and was hoping for better results from an appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court on the legality of the old occupational tax.

"My hope is the Alabama Supreme Court will rule on our appeal and rule in our favor," said Collins.