MONTGOMERY — For many years, a portion of the fee for pistol permits has gone to fund an office for the Jefferson County legislative delegation.
There’s just one problem. The office doesn’t exist, and hasn’t for quite some time, but the fees keep piling up in the bank.
Rep. Allen Farley wants to put that money to some use.
Farley has filed a bill in the current legislative session to take the unused funds — about $1.7 million — and move it to a fund with an earmark for use by law enforcement agencies.
“There’s not an office. Hasn’t been one for years,” Farley said. “There was one with a secretary, but she retired in Jan. 2011 and nobody replaced her. We don’t even know how often she worked there.”
The fee goes back to 1997, when pistol permits fees were reduced to $7.50 at the request of Sheriff Mike Hale (Farley’s former boss). As part of the negotiations to move that reduction through the legislature, lawmakers agreed to set aside $2.50 from each permit to pay for an office for the county legislative delegation.
And for several years, there was such an office in The 2121 Building in downtown Birmingham.
“I want to take this money and put it in a fund where some of those 29 law enforcement agencies in Jefferson County can apply for grants,” Farley said. “With that money, and the $165,000 we’re getting every year from the pistol permits, can you imagine what we can do?”
House Bill 152 is currently going through a four-week waiting period, as required by House rules for local legislative action. It will then be taken up by the Jefferson County Legislation Committee, which is comprised of the same 18 House members who were supposed to be served by the now-closed office.
Farley is a 37-year veteran of law enforcement, serving as assistant sheriff under Hale before retiring and running for the House of Representatives.