"It does not impact my decision, but it may impact how I do this," Humphryes told reporters Tuesday.
Humphryes volunteered to slash his own pay after the commission cut the workweek for the county's hourly workers from 40 to 32 hours a week. Humphryes intended to begin his pay cut on July 1 and end it when the county's hourly workers had their workweeks restored.
After Tuesday's County Commission meeting, Commission President Bettye Fine Collins distributed to reporters copies of an e-mail written by County Attorney Jeff Sewell. The e-mail addressed Section 36-6-10 of the Alabama Code, which pertains to voluntary cuts in pay. Sewell wrote that in order for an elected county official to voluntary diminish their compensation, the official must sign a written statement declaring the amount of the cut in compensation, and that this statement must be notarized and recorded in Jefferson County Probate Court. He also wrote that, in his interpretation, the pay cut is permanent:
"The last sentence of section 36-6-10, Alabama Code, provides that after the instrument is filed in the Probate Court, 'the person filing the said instrument shall not be entitled to more compensation, salary or fees that the reduced amount.' That means that the diminution of compensation is permanent and irrevocable."
Collins suggested that the purpose of the law was to stop elected officials running for re-election from taking a pay cut and restoring it as soon as they were re-elected.
Commissioner Jim Carns, who read Sewell's e-mail, said the permanence of voluntary pay cuts is "a real gray area, legally." When asked if he too is considering reducing his own compensation Carns responded, "It would not be inaccurate to say that."
"As a good leader, you eat the same food your troops eat," Carns told reporters.
Jefferson County's lawyers previously advised the commission that forcing the county's salaried workers to take a pay cut would be illegal, and might result in the county having to retroactively pay unpaid overtime.
The county is in serious financial trouble due to a $70 million loss of revenue from the county's occupational tax, which a judge threw out, among other problems. The shorter workweek was one of several cost-cutting measures the commission has implemented recently.
UPDATE: Birmingham News posted their coverage of this story Wednesday morning. Something worth noting from their report: Commissioners are paid a salary of $66,000 a year with a $10,000 expense account.