Jefferson County looks to help cash-strapped schools

By Alan Collins

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County lawmakers are hoping to bailout financially strapped schools. They plan to pass a constitutional amendment to take part of the one cent school tax money and give it to schools in Jefferson County. All schools are expected to a hit under the new budget plan. School supplies are at the top of the list.

State Rep. John Rogers says additional funds have to be found. "Already cut the school budget down to a bare minimum. There the interest off the tax brings in three and half million a month," Rogers said.
The Jefferson County Commission originally wanted to use the excess from the sales take to use as part of a deal with Wall Street over the massive $3 billion sewer debt. Commission President Bettye Fine Collins says that deal is off the table. "We don't need that right now. I think the chances of getting that out the legislature is slim and none," says Collins.
Rogers believes lawmakers will pass a constitutional amendment for votes in the county to use the money for schools. It is estimated the fund could be up to $25 million a year. Commissioner Bobby Humphryes says that estimate is down this year. "There is not much excess now. Sales are down. There is not hardly anything there now. I don't think it will be a bid deal to fine excess to go anywhere," Humphryes said.
Commissioner Jim Carns doubts Alabama lawmakers can legally divert the money from a contract made with bondholders to pay off the school construction debt for other purposes. "They cannot come in and take money we got based on bonds sold for school construction and change," Carns said.

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