Jefferson County to be audited

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County's finances will be audited by the state. That's the word from a senior state senator tonight after the county commission asked for help in sorting out its money problems.

Facing skepticism over exactly how bad of a financial state they are in, Jefferson County commissioners have been trying for months to get the State Examiner of Public Accounts to do an official audit to clear up any questions.

The office initially turned them down, until this week when Governor Riley stepped in to personally request an audit. State Senator Jabo Waggoner also formally requested a look at the county finances. Waggoner is on the committee that oversees the auditing agency, and the senator says of Chief Examiner Ron Jones "He indicated to me he would come to Jefferson County and do an audit," Waggoner said Sunday. "So based on what he told me Friday, I think it's going to happen and it needs to. Even if it is scary, I think we need to know the truth. Whether we like it or not, we need to know what's there, and that's what this department or state agency will do, will tell us the truth."

County commissioner William Bell told FOX6 News he welcomes this transparency and says the county has nothing to hide.

One question an audit may answer is one Senator Waggoner says is still frustrating him--- why the county still hasn't called back laid off workers now more than a month since a new occupational tax was put in place.

"I think it'll make the public feel a whole lot better knowing the truth about what money's coming in, what money's already there, and what money they are expecting to spend," Waggoner said. "So I think it's a step in the right direction."

Senator Waggoner says he's not sure when the audit will begin or how long it will take, but he says the state will most likely pick up the tab for what's expected to be a fairly expensive audit.