Sheriff Hale sues county commission

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale filed a lawsuit Tuesday morning against the county commission in an effort to stop the commission from cutting more than $5 million from his budget.

Sheriff Hale filed the lawsuit in circuit court in Bessemer Tuesday morning, shortly after the Jefferson County Commission approved $31 million in cuts to its budget.  Included in that was $5.1 million in cuts to the sheriff's department budget.

Sheriff Hale, in his lawsuit, asked the court for a temporary restraining order against the county commission to prevent the cuts from taking effect.  Sheriff Hale has said any cuts to the budget would jeopardize the safety of citizens in the county and were illegal.

Commission President Bettye Fine Collins did not comment on the lawsuit, but has said all county departments would face budget cuts. Collins said Tuesday morning the cuts approved will lead to hundreds of county employees losing their jobs.

The county is being forced to cut its budget after a judge earlier this year declared the county's occupational tax illegal. The county commission and state lawmakers from Jefferson County were scheduled to meet Wednesday morning to discuss the budget crisis and possible ways to restore the lost revenue.