New proposal would change Jeffco government's infrastructure - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

New proposal would change Jeffco government's infrastructure

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - There is a push for a new form of government in Jefferson County. State Representative Owen Drake of Leeds wants to abolish with the County Commission.

House Bill 53 would replace the County Commission set up a 5-member County Council.

A Chief Executive would be elected countywide, and would have veto powers over the County Council.

A County Manager would be appointed to run the day to day operations of the county.

Rep. Drake said this would not only save the county money, it would provide more accountability in the county.

"That is what this bill will do," said Rep. Drake, "Right now there are no checks and balances, and that is what brought us to this point."

Rep. Drake presented the bill at a public hearing in downtown Birmingham Monday night. Members of the Jefferson County Delegation, Sheriff's Department, and residents attended.

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale said he supports the bill because something has to be done to prevent the constant budget battles that he and other county officials have fought over the last couple of years.

"What we have now is broke," said Sheriff Hale, "The citizens feel it.  As the head of largest sheriff's office in the state, I feel it."

Rep. John Rogers has also presented another bill calling for a four-member County Commission with the President running countywide. He said he has some concerns with Rep. Drake's bill because it may bring too big of a change, to the county, but he is willing to listen.

"I think it needs to be vetted," said Rep. Rogers, "I think it needs to be discussed and see where we are."

Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot disagreed with the proposal and said lawmakers should be focusing on other things.

"I have problems when people start out a legislative session as if it is a county commission session," said Smoot, "Mr. Drake should be working on needs of people in his legislative district and actually that is not one of them at this point in time."

Both Rep. Rogers and Rep. Drake said they are hopeful lawmakers will vote on one of the bills in this legislative session.

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