BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) - In a split vote, Jefferson County commissioners approved a $43,000 increase for Commissioner George Bowman's office budget.
The request prompted Commissioner Jimmie Stephens to criticize Bowman's handling of his budget and his oversight of the former Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.
"Had they lived within their budget, there would not have been any need to close the inpatient care," Commissioner Jimmie Stephens said.
Commissioner Jimmie Stephens says Bowman, as the head of the health committee, did not put pressure on Copper Green administrators to operate within budget. That's why he's upset about Bowman failing to downsize his office staff, resulting in the need for additional funding.
"I'm sorry that he was not able to do that for the employees at Cooper Green," Stephens said.
Commissioners voted 3-2 to increase Bowman's budget to cover the rest of the fiscal year. Without the $43,000 increase, Bowman's office would have run out of money.
"The alternative would have been to cram down his staff salaries to zero," Commission President David Carrington said of Thursday's vote.
Carrington, Bowman and Sandra Little Brown voted for the increase. Commissioners Stephens and Joe Knight voted no.
"If Cooper Green would have been dealt with in a more administrative way, we wouldn't be where we are today," Brown said.
Commissioner Brown says voting to increase the funding was the right policy decision. She said if the vote was personal, she may have gone the other way because Bowman's staffers have mistreated her in the past.
Carrington says Bowman has assured him he will get within budget by the start of the next fiscal year. If that does not happen, Carrington says other commissioners will likely take up the matter of reducing staff salaries themselves.
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