BRADENTON, Fla. - The firm hired last week by Jefferson County, Ala., to lobby for a federal backstop or guarantee to help restructure the county's nearly $3.2 billion of troubled sewer debt has declined to do so.

Book Hill Partners LLC said in a letter Friday to County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins that although a comprehensive strategy and action plan was being devised to help the county avert bankruptcy, "the decision by some to use the sewer debt crisis for their own ends has created a toxic political landscape around Jefferson County."

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