JeffCo Commission working to balance budget

October 1, 2012 looms large for state and local governments. It is the start of the new fiscal year.

In financially-strapped Jefferson County, the commission is now just $300,000 shy of making ends meet.

Commission president David Carrington is adamant about not taking money from the reserve funds to make up that difference.

Carrington says the additional money can not come from reserves, because the commission must prove it can balance a budget.

In order to balance that budget, a little more work needs to be done.

Carrington specifically called out the Bessemer District Attorney's office and Family Court.

"The numbers reveal that others aren't doing their fair share," says Carrington. "What does fair share mean? It means, those budgets look like they're high in relation to their historical needs and their projected needs."Case in point. Family Court wants $400,000 more than it had last year.

As for the Bessemer D.A.'s office.

"It shows they're spending almost double per case than the Birmingham D.A. and I think this commission deserves them to come in and say why they're half as efficient as Birmingham," Carrington says.Commissioner Joe Knight agrees there is still room for tweaking. "We're very close, we have worked very hard as you know, over the last two years to get to this point," says Knight. "We're almost there and we're going to have a balanced budget."

County manager Tony Petelos says, a balanced budget could mean a light at the end of the tunnel for Jefferson County.

"We've cut over $127 million. The previous commissioners, when they left office had a $312 million budget. We are going to end this fiscal year, under $185 million," Petelos says. "We've removed a lot in our budget, we will try to find this $300,000 gap. We're going to do that over the next couple of days and we will have a balanced budget at next Tuesday's commission meeting."