No more money for Sheriff Hale

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Jefferson County Commission on Wednesday said Sheriff Mike Hale must continue to live within his current budget.

Sheriff Hale had asked for additional funding to rehire deputies he had to layoff last year due to budget cuts. However, the commission on Wednesday said no.

"His budget is $51 million," said Bettye Fine Collins, Jefferson Co. Commission President. "You compare that to a large department, bringing in money help fund his budget, you can see where we are with this."

Sheriff Hale had hoped he would get an increase in funding just as the county tax collector received on Wednesday. The commission approved spending $120,000 to hire three additional people to collect and process tax payments.

"I, along with other citizens of the county, believe public safety is a real base, a foundation for the county," Hale said.

Last October, the county commission cut $10 million from Hale's budget for the new fiscal year. Hale laid off 45 deputies, half of which were hired by the Birmingham Police Department. Hale said he was able to bring the rest back to work last week due to retirements and leaves, but Sheriff Hale said he still has 21 support personnel on administrative leave and 63 deputy positions unfilled.

Hale said he applauds the commission for supporting the tax collector but he still wants more funding. He said, though, the best hope for getting that funding apparently will be in this year's election.

"There is going to be a new commission," Hale said. "There is going to be new group. I hope they are five new commissioners who will value public safety."