Jefferson County looks at options if job tax fails - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Jefferson County looks at options if job tax fails

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County employees will have to make ends meet without merit pay raises. On Tuesday, the Jefferson County Commission voted unamiously to suspend merit pay raises for a year.

The county is facing financial troubles because Montgomery Circuit Judge Charles Price has struck down occupational tax and the county business tax. This means the loss of about $70 million to the county budget.

Tuesday the commission okayed cutting out merit pay raises for the rest of the year, but that's only a cost savings of $2 million.

Jefferson County Commissioners are hoping the Alabama Supreme Court reinstates the tax to avoid cuts to services. Past money cuts have shutdown of Jefferson satellite courthouses. Taxpayers said Tuesday they don't want to see it again.

"It would be totally inconvenient," Newton Beaver, taxpayer said. "I'm here on my day off. It's convenient right down the road. I don't want any more hassle."

Commissioners are looking at all possible cuts, but commissioners admitted Tuesday they can not cut enough to make up for the lost funds.

"It's possible that we can never reach that $70 million," Jimmie Stephens, Jefferson Co Commissioner said.

Commissioners would like for Alabama lawmakers to give them a new tax, but a majority of Alabama lawmakers say they oppose a new job tax.  

"There will be no mass layoffs or cuts in jobs until we have a ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court," said Commissioner David Carrington. "If we do, we will do legislative action."

If all of that fails, jobs and services will be cut.  Commissioners hope to save county employees jobs but that may not be possible. Commissioners say they may bring in a new business tax to pump more money in the county. Commissioners say businesses had big problems with the current tax.

"There is no doubt it a cumbersome process," David Carrington, Jefferson Co. Commissioner said. "It's a matter of fact many small businesses."

"They need some kind of money," David Boyd, taxpayer said. "In the world there is two things you are going to do, pay taxes and die."

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