More budget cuts for Jefferson County

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Despite money problems, the Jefferson County Commission on Tuesday passed an $808 million budget for fiscal 2010.

The budget passed 4-1 with Commissioner Bobby Humphryes voting against it.

"The numbers haven't added up to me," said Humphryes. "I've had some questions, they haven't been answered to my mind adequately."

Commissioner Humphryes also questioned if the budget was balanced and if the county had done all it could do to bring workers back to a full 40-hour work week.  Currently, more than 700 county workers are scheduled to be brought back on a 32-hour work week on October 10th.

Commission President Bettye Fine Collins said she was happy most of the commission voted for the budget. She also insists the budget is balanced and does not depend on talks for a loan or a line of credit from Regions Bank.

"The good news is we will have an operation budget," Collins said.  "This county will resume on October 10th it's normal operation. That's the good news."

All county departments are taking funding hits in the new budget, including the county coroner's office.

"It depends on what we do," said County Coroner Robert Brissie. "We will have to look at and see what was done in this budget. I have no knowledge of what it is at the present time."

The sheriff's department is getting a $10 million cut in the budget.  Sheriff Mike Hale said Tuesday afternoon he does not like it.

"I disagree with the commission's stance on public safety," Hale said. "I personally know them. They are fine men and women. The just made poor decisions."

The sheriff said his options for trimming his budget include pulling sheriff deputies from courthouse security, possibly shutting down the Bessemer Jail, increasing the number of inmates in jail cells and a reduction of a 110 sheriff deputies.

"Hopefully the people of the county that dial 911 or have a crime investigated, hopefully they won't see any difference at all in our service," said Hale.

While the county commissioners want to help the sheriff, they say there is no more money.

"He has got to realize, everyone is taking a cut," Humphreys said.  "Everyone is suffering now. As I said before I'm not willing to keep people off the job and shut down other departments to keep him fully funded."

"I don't think anyone is happy with the amount of money projected for their various departments and operations," said Collins.

"The sheriff needs to stop whining and get in here to be a team player and may be next year things will change," said Commissioner Sheila Smoot.

Hale said it will be up to the voters to decide if the commissioners were right or not.

"I don't think being an advocate for the public is being a whiner," said Hale.