The Alabama Supreme Court unanimously upheld a ruling that said the county's occupational tax is unconstitutional due to improper advertising of the bill. he decision leaves a more than 70-million dollar hole in the county's budget annually.
The Jefferson County commissioners plan on meeting with the Jefferson County Delegation next week to find out whether a replacement tax is even an option to help save jobs and services.
The commission did not expect the Alabama Supreme Court to hand down a ruling saying the advertised bill did not include substantive changes, like the 2012 referendum or the tax being retro-active. Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb's opinion also says the governor's ability to call a special session in an emergency situation does not supercede the bill's advertisement.
The county's expenditures will exceed revenues by late July, so commissioners are creating a 100 day plan. They may also ask the delegation for a lower occupation tax of .25 percent, a business license tax, or a higher sales tax.
But without another tax, they say some jobs and services will be cut and bankruptcy may be filed.
"We don't want to start laying people off, but we may have to reduce hours. We may have to cut back in other ways. We may have to do some things that are going to be painful for everybody," said Commissioner Joe Knight.
"It creates a crisis for Jefferson County and will probably set us on a course of action that will affect the citizens of Jefferson County for many, many years to come," said Commissioner Jimmie Stephens.
The county has until next week to request another Supreme Court hearing on the tax.