Jefferson County Commission looks at budget cuts - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Jefferson County Commission looks at budget cuts

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JEFFERSON COUNTY - AL -

By September 30th, Jefferson County leaders must decide how to balance the budget. Cuts must be made. The impact will likely leave scars on many departments - that includes one of the county's most crucial services. The Sheriff's office has already seen drastic cutbacks, it may be facing a few more.

"The Sheriff and the commission are trying to work together to develop the data to make our case to the people - is this something you want us to cut or not?" David Carrington, Jefferson Co. Commission President said.

Before cuts are to be made, Commission President David Carrington presented a study showing how Jefferson County compares with the other seven largest counties in Alabama. They found, that not only is Jefferson County the biggest, with the highest crime rate -  it's also spending the lowest amount per person.

"They are doing everything they can to stop the bleeding and I commend them for that," Chief Deputy Randy Christian, Jefferson Co. Sheriff's Office said. "The answer is in Montgomery. It always has been."

In just a few years time, the Sheriff's office has trimmed back about $20 million and any more could put safety at stake.

"Serious thefts, robberies, that's all going to climb - that's just the way it is and that's the world we are living in right now," Christian said.

"There is a minimal level of service and unfortunately, the sheriff has reached that minimal level and perhaps gone below it," Jimmie Stevens Jefferson County Commissioner said.

The task for Commissioners now is to figure out how to maintain those services without sacrificing public safety.

"We've got to cut the budget 20, 30, 40 million, and the Sheriff is the largest part of our budget when you say you can't cut him 20, you've got to cut someone else 30, or 40," Carrington said.

"If you look at low funded for public safety, you're going to see a high crime rate," Christian said. "That's an interesting comparison with other counties and I think it's very telling."