JeffCo Commission votes against budget proposal - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

JeffCo Commission votes against budget proposal

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A majority of the Jefferson County Commission voted against a budget proposal Wednesday, forcing them to continue debate on the county's operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The commission, by a 4-1 vote, refused to approve the 2011 fiscal budget set to take effect Friday. Commission President Bettye Fine Collins was the only commissioner who voted in favor of the budget proposal.

Collins immediately called a special meeting for Wednesday to reconsider the budget proposal.

Commissioners began debating the budget proposal Tuesday morning when commissioner George Bowman objected to spending $2 million to cover the cost of John Young, the receiver appointed by a judge to fix the county's sewer debt crisis.  Bowman wanted the money taken out of the budget until county attorneys could ask the judge to lower the receiver's $500 per hour salary, but commissioners refused.

Commissioner Sheila Smoot also objected to the budget proposal, saying there were too many unanswered questions, including legal fees, and Commissioner Bobby Humphryes said he did not like spending so much money with a lawsuit still pending over the county's occupational tax.

Commissioner Jim Carns also voted against the budget.

In addition to the budget vote, commissioners were also scheduled to cast a second vote whether or not to give Sheriff Mike Hale almost $5 million to open the new Bessemer Jail, but that vote did not occur. Not every commissioner agreed with the plan. Some said Hale should hire civilian correction officers instead of more expensive deputies and other commissioners questioned whether it is wise to dip into reserve funds to get the extra money for the sheriff's department.

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