Despite strong opposition from Jefferson County officials, lawmakers narrowly approved a bill that will split Jefferson County water and sewer bills.
Currently customers pay both at the same time and The Birmingham Water Works Board collects the funding from customers. Birmingham Rep. Mary Moore said the current billing is unfair to customers in Districts 1 and 2 in Jefferson County. Moore introduced the bill to force the county to set up its own collection system and it would prohibit the termination of water service for failure to pay your bill.
Jefferson County Manager Tony Petelos spoke against the plan. Petelos said it could force the county back into bankruptcy because the county's plan to exit bankruptcy depended on an approved collection system with the threat of losing water service.
"First and foremost you can't turn the sewer off. There is no valve to turn the sewer off. If the water comes into the house it has to exit the house," Petelos said.
Jefferson County pays the water board $4 million to collect sewer collections.
"At this rate the county has no put forth any effort of even trying to work with the citizens through the bankruptcy and sewer or anything else. They just throw it back, all back to the Birmingham Water Works Board and that is absolutely not right," Moore said.
The committee split 8-7 between with Democrats supporting the bill and Republicans opposing it. The bill now heads to the full Alabama House for debate.
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