Jefferson County Commission passes plan to exit bankruptcy - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Jefferson County Commission passes plan to exit bankruptcy

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Thursday, the Jefferson County Commission voted 4 to 1 to approve a plan that would lead the county out of bankruptcy.

The plan includes sewer rate hikes of 7.41% for the next four years.  After that, rate increases are not expected to rise more than 3.49% a year for the life of the debt.

Jefferson County Manager, Tony Petelos, said this plan will help the county pay off its $1.8 billion sewer debt and move out of bankruptcy.

"With this in place, we have a very good possibility of being out of bankruptcy by the end of the calendar year."

County Commissioner George Bowman was the only commissioner to oppose the plan. Friday, Bowman explained his position.

"That plan, that they voted on yesterday, is the plan that passes all the cost onto the rate payer. The rate payers are my constituents. I cannot vote to put that kind of rate on my constituents."

But, Petelos said exiting bankruptcy without increasing sewer rates is simply not possible.

"Unfortunately, these plants are very expensive to operate and there has to be increases."

Petelos stressed that the plan passed by the County Commission is only a proposal. The creditors still have to sign-off on the plan and the bankruptcy judge must approve it.

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