JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Thanks to a settlement over allegations of illegally paying friends of county commissioners, Jefferson County employees will be looking at returning to a 40-hour work week.
Jefferson County will receive $50 million dollars from JP Morgan Chase & Company. The company settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission but never admitted to illegally paying friends of county commissioners so they would land hundreds of million dollars in bond work. The county will receive $50 million dollars from the JP Morgan and will use the money to put $22 million into a reserve fund and $15 million towards a possible refund over the occupational tax.
County workers welcomed the news. "That eight hours was a lot of money for a lot of people. Now we get 40 hours work week it will be a lot of money," Lisa Pack, Jefferson County worker said.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's office did not go to a 32-hour work week; instead 68 employees were put on administrative leave without pay. The sheriff's office hopes to return them to work. "We have a jail in Bessemer sitting empty. We have a jail sitting in Birmingham getting awfully crowded. I just urge these commissioners to consider that and do the right thing for the county," says Lt. Randy Christian with the sheriff's office.
Commission President Bettye Fine Collins says it was the sheriff's choice to put workers on leave and not to a 32-hour worker work. Collins says the sheriff will have to live with that decision.
"We are not increasing budgets. The budget we adapted stands. If anybody goes over it they will have to adjust it," Collins said.
Christian hopes the commission changes its mind. "Those are the protectors of this county. The county is safer when they are on the job," Christian said.