Officials have postponed a bankruptcy decision for Jefferson County, Alabama for the second time in two weeks. On Thursday, county commissioners again met with creditors in Birmingham, but did not make a decision on how to deal with the county’s $3.14 billion debt as they continued to discuss a settlement. The county now says it will make a decision next Friday, Aug. 12.
One of the sticking points has been sewer rates, which have already increased by an astonishing 329% over the last decade, according to county commissioner George Brown.
The county’s debt crisis, stemming from the financial fiasco associated with bonds sold for a new sewer system, has been unwinding for more than three years. Last week, the county commissioners agreed postpone a settlement or bankruptcy decision for a week after creditors made concessions.
Speaking for the Birmingham Business Alliance, James McManus II said he hoped the commissioners would be able to reach a settlement negotiation, rather than filing for bankruptcy.
“In a bankruptcy scenario, there can be no assurance the sewer rates will be lower than under a negotiated settlement and the county’s ability to solve its general fund problems will likely be stymied,” McManus said in a statement on Tuesday. “A bankruptcy is likely to impair economic development and job creation in this area for years to come,” he warned.