One year ago today, Jefferson County declared the largest municipal bankruptcy in history. Jefferson County Commissioners believe the end may be in sight.
The county declared bankruptcy citing more than $4 billion in debt. Most of it involved the bond deals involving the sewer construction projects. After the loss of the occupational tax the county commission has been forced to lay off hundreds of workers and close satellite courthouses. This has lead to long lines at courthouses in Birmingham and Bessemer.
"I look for better things a head for the citizens of Jefferson County. We will continue to make difficult decisions," Jimmie Stephens, Jefferson County Commissioner, said.
The commission had hoped that Governor Robert Bentley and the Jefferson County legislative delegation would be able to find a new source of funding to replace the job tax but that never happened. This week the county voted to increase sewer rates for the first time since 2008. This will help the commission develop a plan of adjustment to end bankruptcy.
"We had good conversations with various creditor groups and we are very hopeful we can see the light in the tunnel shortly," David Carrington, Jefferson County Commissioner, said.
Next week Carrington and Stephens travel to Los Angeles, California to meet with creditor groups and discuss that plan of adjustment.
"We are moving very rapidly to have a plan. The easiest way to have plan approved is to have consensual agreement with all of your creditors. We are going to give it our best shot to have consensual agreements," Carrington said.
The commissioners have had to make tough decisions about cutting employees, services and voting to end inpatient care at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. The commissioners could face a voter backlash in two years.
"At the end of the day if these decisions are not to the people's liking who put me me here then put somebody else in," Joe Knight, Jefferson County Commissioner, said.
Copyright 2012 WBRC. All rights reserved.
1720 Valley View Drive