Commission’s vote a step in right direction

Nov 21, 2011 No Comments ›› Admin

by Slade Blackwell

Trussville Tribune

September 22, 2011

The Jefferson County Commission voted Friday to accept a settlement agreement with creditors to solve the escalating sewer debt crisis. I am very pleased with the commission’s decision to settle rather than filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

From the beginning, I have advocated that we try to reach a fair settlement with the creditors. Filing bankruptcy would not wipe out Jefferson County’s debt completely and, therefore, cripple our economic viability for years to come. I am proud of the way the commission, Gov. Bentley and former Finance Director David Perry handled this situation, which I know was not an easy one.

While this is an excellent step in the right direction, it’s now time to get to work to prevent this from ever happening again. The commission has done its part and now it’s the job of the Alabama State Legislature to do ours.

I am currently in the process of drafting legislation that creates an independent, nonpolitical sewer authority. This authority would remove politics and corruption from the system and decisions that manage it, which is what got us here in the first place. This, in turn, will restore confidence in Jefferson County and in the sewer system as a whole.

Restoring this confidence is not only important with citizens and taxpayers, but also when we go to the bond market. Jefferson County and the state of Alabama will need to borrow money for capital improvements in the future for schools and other construction, requiring us to go to these bond markets for support. A renewed sense of confidence will only help us grow and improve in the future.

I believe Jefferson County is moving in the right direction and has a future that is promising. I am very optimistic about where Jefferson County is headed and I’m looking forward to working with the commission, the local legislative delegation and the legislature as a whole to solve this crisis once and for all.

By working together to solve this issue, we can soon look forward to a Jefferson County where our children and grandchildren can enjoy living in a prosperous community without having the stigma of bankruptcy attached.