A regional business organization headquartered in Jefferson County is urging Alabama’s political leaders to solve the county’s sewer debt crisis.
The Birmingham Business Alliance, which focuses on economic issues in seven counties surrounding and including Jefferson County, adopted a policy statement regarding the sewer debt.
“Jefferson County’s lingering default on its sewer debt has profound implications for the county, region, and state,” the BBA said on its Web site. “The hidden costs of this default to taxpayers and businesses could be extensive if this crisis continues to linger and go unresolved.”
It said economic development efforts will continue lag because businesses looking to expand in the region will have little confidence in government living up to its commitments.
“The BBA endorses immediate action to resolve this crisis, which may include legislative support, commission support, community support, and the cooperation of all parties to the sewer crisis,” the statement said.
The Jefferson County sewer system is saddled with $3.2 billion of variable- and auction-rate debt that county commissioners have not been able to restructure. Penalty interest rates have pushed debt expenses far beyond the sewer revenues that are collected.
The BBA also is supporting legislation concerning a local rental car tax that would enable the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex to issue bonds for expansion of the facility.