Just when you thought no one else could possibly lose their jobs in Jefferson County, it appears that may not be the case.
In the Jefferson County Commission's meeting Tuesday morning, it was reported that the county still needs to trim $2 million more from the budget, which could mean more layoffs.
Originally, county commissioners thought they would have to lay off a total of 964 employees to trim $12 million from the budget. So far, department heads have only given out around 500 pink slips, totaling $10 million of cuts. Commissioner Jimmie Stephens said he hopes the county can fill the remaining $2 million gap with revenue, but if that doesn't work, additional layoffs are possible.
Separately but equally difficult, Circuit Judge Scott Vowell said criminal courts in the county will close on Monday if more money doesn't come in. Currently, the county only has enough money to pay the security guards who man the metal detectors at the main courthouse. For security purposes, the county plans to close access to the public at the four other Jefferson County courthouses next week.
To postpone the closing of those courthouses, Vowell requested $144,000 from commissioners, which would keep operations running through September 30, the end of the fiscal year. It costs $9,000 per week to pay for security guards and bailiffs to man all of the metal detectors at entrances to the county judicial buildings.
"If the security is not here, the courts can't be here. We can't function with the judges and the public, the witnesses and the lawyers, being subject to any, as one of the commissioners said, anyone person who comes in off the streets," Vowell said.
In response to Judge Vowell's request, the commission will hold an emergency special meeting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday to determine whether or not they can come up with the $144,000 that would keep the courthouses open until Sept. 30.
The county is also considering asking police officers from various jurisdictions to help man the metal detectors in an effort to keep the courthouses open.
If extra police help or the extra funding does not come through, the county will close the Criminal Justice Center, Family Court and the Bessemer Courthouse to the public on Monday, June 27.
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