JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - A setback hit Sheriff Mike Hale's budget hopes on Wednesday.
The day after more than a dozen sheriff deputies came to the county commission seeking support for returning to work, Commission President Bettye Fine Collins did not put the request for more than a million dollars on her finance committee agenda. "I believe as a public servant I'm protecting the taxpayers' dollars and the welfare of the county," Collins said.
The sheriff's office was not happy. "I'm incredibly disappointed. I can't tell you how disappointed I am," Lt. Randy Christian, spokesman for Hale said.
Lt. Christian says without help from the county, the 14 deputies and 21 civilian workers will not have a job for the holidays. "People who now have no ability to support their families. Jefferson County is a safer place when they are on the job," Christian
In other actions, the committee refused to approve two contracts for the sheriff. This included $640,000 for legal services next year and more than $4 million for medical care for jail inmates. Commissioners questioned why the contracts did not go out for bids. "Certainly we need to bid the contracts or get a request for proposals. Maybe another proposal out there will have better costs," Shelia Smoot, Jefferson Co. Commissioner said.
Christian denied the sheriff would get a better deal. Acting finance director Travis Hulsey also announced the county could face another five percent cut because of declining revenues. Christian is not buying it. "That's a shell game they are playing. It's a dog and pony show set up between Commissioner Collins and the finance department," Christian said.
Collins says the only way for Hale to get additional funds is for other county departments to take more than a two percent cut in their budgets.