Jefferson County delays hiring lobbyist

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Alabama legislature has started, but Jefferson County has delayed hiring a lobbyist at least for one week.

Only four out of five commissioners came to Tuesday's meeting. Commissioner William Bell had a scheduling conflict.  Commission President Bettye Fine Collins delayed the hiring of John Guthrie Junior, the brother-in-law of Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. "That action was not taken today. Postponed until next week. We didn't have a full commission here today," Collins said.
          
If there was a vote it may have failed in a two to two deadlock. At least two county commissioners, Bobby Humphryes and Jim Carns are questioning the salary of a lobbyist at $120 thousand. "We are strapped for money. Nothing has changed since we got that ugly report back in end of November and the beginning of December."Carns said.
             
Other commissioners point to the need for a lobbyist in Montgomery. They point to Leeds Representative Owen Drake who has a bill which will create a chief executive officer and county manager to run county government. "If the public reaction to it is any indicator, it will pass. The public support has been overwhelming," Drake said.
             
Commissioner Shelia Smoot says the county has to have a lobbyist in Montgomery to deal with bills which could end up costing the county money. Smoot says the fight over the occupational tax is a prime example. "The legislature does not attack the Jefferson County Commission. The five member commission. It attacks the taxpayers if we pay out millions and millions of dollars. It's their money," Smoot said.