Rep. Rogers says he can fix Jefferson County money problems
BIRMINGHAM - AL —
Rep. John Rogers believes he has solved the financial crisis of Jefferson County.
"I think I've put together a darn perfect bill," he said.
Two bills to be exact.
One bill would create a health care authority to operate and maintain Cooper Green. The other bill would put in place a one-half percent occupational tax, which is expected to generate up to $70 million.
"This is a revenue fix that we dearly need," Jefferson County Commissioner, George Bowman, said.
$15 million is earmarked for operating Cooper Green. The rest of it will pay off sewer debt and bonds. It should also restore services, cut down long car tag lines and possibly reopen closed courthouses.
"The resumption of the occupational tax will eliminate that and give us the revenue that we need to provide the level of services to our citizens that they require," Bowman said.
Commissioner Sandra Little Brown agrees with the tax, but disagrees with how it's being done. She says Rogers is basically going over the commission's head.
"We have to come to the table," she said. "We have to reason together to do these bills and get all the creditors and all the other people involved. Without getting the commission involved is not a good start."
Bowman agrees that a conversation needs to happen, but says the only ones who can establish revenue are legislators. Brown says commission and those directly involved with the county's financial crisis need to be included.
"This is the 50th year [anniversary of the civil rights movement]," Brown said. "We shouldn't have those types of struggles of 'You do this and we do that and you abide by what we say'. It's totally unfair."
Rogers says he wants to present the bills to the people of Jefferson County before putting it in front of the legislature. He looks to do that "very soon."