Some excited over 2010 Jeffco budget, not Sheriff Hale

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Without Jefferson County employees on the job, Wednesday was another long day of lines at the Jefferson County Courthouse. "I hate the fact we have to stay so long but can't really help change it. Not right now anyway." says Omar Pearson.

Commission President Bettye Fine Collins says the lines will go away with a new proposed budget for 2010."I feel comfortable in saying we are making a lot of progress of bringing this county back in providing full service to citizens." says Collins.

The county is proposing a $808 million budget which is $28 million less than this year's. Commissioner Shelia Smoot says smaller is better."I think it was about time. I think it's where Jefferson County should have been all along. It's a good day when we pass that budget next week. It's where Jefferson County needs to be all along for some years now." says Smoot.

Taxpayers who are forced to wait in line welcomed the news. "Praise the lord.  I've never had to wait like this at the satellite courthouses. You didn't have to wait down here. It's just the lack of employees. They can only do so much." says Donna Ford. "That would be nice. I went the other day only to find they closed the satellite. It will be a definite plus." says Jasmine Drake.
"It's almost as bare as the trees will be in this winter. It's very bare bones." says Collins.
That's how Commissioner Collins describes the budget. "We will be able to bring our employees back by October tenth and will be able to start opening satellite courthouses." says Collins.
Sheriff Mike Hale has a different view of the budget. Especially since the budget cuts $10 million out of budget going from $61 million to $51 million next year. "This is ill advised because the budget management office has not asked for my opinion. They don't know about public safety." says Hale.
Hale says the budget cut could mean less money for deputies or the county jail. Commissioner Sheila Smoot says Hale could have taken a bigger hit."I think he can provide law enforcement on 20 million dollars less. Had he provided and pitched in we would not have had to lay off a thousand employees." says Smoot.
The sheriff hopes to lobby commissioners to change their mind before next week's vote. "It takes a force of deputy sheriffs to keep this county safe. The Jefferson County deputies do just that and it cost money." says Hale.