Opponents to JeffCo bankruptcy exit plan vow to continue the fig

Opponents to JeffCo bankruptcy exit plan vow to continue the fight

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A group opposed to Jefferson County's plan to exit bankruptcy protested on the county courthouse steps on Wednesday. Source: Alan Collins/WBRC A group opposed to Jefferson County's plan to exit bankruptcy protested on the county courthouse steps on Wednesday. Source: Alan Collins/WBRC
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Those opposed to the plan to get Jefferson County out of bankruptcy are vowing to carry on their fight.

On the steps of the Jefferson County Courthouse Wednesday, a group made of those representing sewer rate customers said the plan adopted by the Jefferson County Commission is unfair to sewer customers.

"The mathematics just don't work. The numbers will not add up," Jefferson County Commissioner George Bowman said.

The plan calls for refinancing almost $2 billion of new debt which would be paid off in 40 years with sewer revenues.

"We are feeling Mr. Carrington and his cohorts are leading us into a predatory payday loan," William Muhammad with the Committee to Develop Birmingham said.

Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington and other county officials returned this week from New York after meeting with financial rating companies as the county tries to re-enter the financial markets.

"The best way is a consensual settlement. We are in control of what happens. The worst thing for the citizens, this plan doesn't work. It's thrown out of bankruptcy court and a sewer receiver is put back in place," Carrington said.

But those opposed to the plan said the county will start off with a $2 billion debt and it will grow to $14 billion over 40 years with interest rate increases.

"It's like a second mortgage on your house. You have a $40,000 mortgage but the county committing you to $110,000 mortgage you have to pay," Andrew Bennett, Asst. Tax Assessor in Bessemer said.

The group representing ratepayers vow to continue to oppose the current plan to exit bankruptcy in the courts. And Carrington admits the plan could change.

"The county has the option to present a new plan. We can present multiple plans as long as Judge Bennett accepts them," Carrington said.

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