This week’s Legislative Roundup is just about nothing! Well because the Alabama Legislature is on Spring Break. But they will be back next week! And they only have 15 meeting days left and they have barely scratched the surface in dealing with the needs of Alabama. I will get back to the issues next week but this week I really need to talk about the crisis in Jefferson County Alabama. Yes they just defaulted on a $15 million payment to investors holding general obligation warrants.
Jefferson County has been troubled with massive corruption and debt over the sewer fiasco. Jeff. Co. was ordered in the 1990′s to fix its sewer system that has costed the county over $3 billion dollars! And in late 2011 Jefferson County had to declare the largest municipal bankruptcy in America‘s history. The commission debated with the Wall Street creditors for a long time but eventually they had no choice. Now that the general fund budget is in serious trouble you have to wonder when the county just shuts down all together.
Jefferson County has laid off hundreds of workers and shut down numerous buildings resulting in huge lines just to do simple things as renewing your car tag. Now with the county defaulting on another bond just to keep the basic services going they need help. But the Jefferson County delegation at the Alabama Legislature can not agree with anything. The county needs new revenue in the form of new taxes but as you know the legislature will not budge.
The county also has another elephant in the room in the form of Cooper Green Hospital. They need $14 million to pay past invoices.
So you have to wonder if they will default on that as well. All of this together just means Jefferson County is in serious trouble! If something is not done soon they will have no choice but to shut down. Which will mean no police protection in rural areas, no ways to renew car tags, no inspections to make sure buildings and restaurants are safe, and the biggie; no ways to help clean up areas after disasters. No doubt the bond default is going to affect every government in Alabama. Now it might be harder for governments in Alabama to take out bonds because of Jefferson County.
Now what needs to be done to help fix Jefferson County? The county has cut, cut, and cut some more to go past being bare bones. The county needs new revenue to help provide the basic services that they are required to provide by law. People want police protection in rural areas, they want good roads, they want good services in the courthouse, they want to make sure buildings and restaurants are safe. The people wants the county to provide the basic services for everyone; and it costs money! Jefferson County has much more to maintain than other counties because it is the most populous county in Alabama. That means you have to hire more people to provide the services people want.
But you have these people who say they need to live within its reduced budget. Well do those people want no police protection or have a bridge fail because there is no money to maintain it? Jefferson County needs new revenue! I am sorry for those people who believe we should pay hardly any taxes. Government needs revenue to provide the services to protect and serve people. It is not going to kill you to pay just a little more. And that goes for the State of Alabama as well. One idea floating around is to kill Jefferson County and let the neighboring counties take over. I have provided a map of what this might look like. Let’s hope it does not get to this point. Only Birmingham in red would be not annexed into a neighboring county.