Alabama governor signs bill to end county crisis

The Associated PressAugust 15, 2009 

— Alabama Gov. Bob Riley approved a new tax Friday to help rescue the state's most populous county from a severe budget crisis, a move that should put 1,000 laid-off county workers back to work.

Jefferson County residents have faced long lines to conduct business in recent weeks because satellite courthouses closed and other offices cut back hours in the wake of the financial trouble. Jefferson County is home to about 640,000 people and Alabama's largest city, Birmingham.

The Republican governor signed two bills into law after a quick special session. One creates an occupational tax for all of the workers in the county and the other called for the county to hire a manager to oversee finances.

"A lot of people took very difficult votes for the ultimate good of Jefferson County, and I appreciate them doing that," Riley said.

Jefferson County officials did not immediately announce when laid-off government employees would return, but residents were eager for the more than one-fourth of the county work force to get back on the job.

In Birmingham, more than 100 people had stood in line for hours waiting to get driver's licenses or handle other business at the Jefferson County Courthouse. Many sat in lawn chairs with books in a hall; some had pizza delivered.

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