Jeffco Commission ponders options after job tax loss

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Time to consider their options is what members of the Jefferson County Commission want after losing a court battle for the occupational tax.

The jobs tax brings in about $70 million a year. Without it, the county faces major cuts in employees and services.

What really cuts for commissioners is the fact several really thought they would win the Supreme Court case. The commission has until Wednesday to decide whether to ask for a re-hearing. In that time, expect the commission to talk with members of the county's legislative delegation.

Commissioner Jimmie Stephens says the loss of the money should not mean the extreme lines we saw in the last budget crisis of 2009, but commissioners must consider how to cut and that could mean some jobs.

Stephens says commissioners want to talk with lawmakers about perhaps passing a new tax plan. On Thursday morning's Good Day Alabama, the co-chairman of the legislative delegation seemed cautious about a new tax bill. Homewood Representative Paul Demarco says if lawmakers did pass a new occupational tax, it would likely face another legal challenge. Still, he is willing to listen to the commission.

"We need to give them the opportunity to hear from them and where they think they are now and where they will be in the next six months," said Demarco.

"I was not surprised. I knew about it already," said Representative John Rogers. "I can guarantee you that bill has a snowball's chance in H-E-double-tooth-pick to pass."

Representative Rogers goes on to say that no Democrat in the delegation will sponsor an occupational tax.

The commission recently hired a firm that specializes in turnarounds for county's and municipalities in financial crisis. That firm offers its advice to the county in the coming weeks. Among the options expected to be offered is bankruptcy.

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