BRADENTON, Fla. - With Jefferson County, Ala., facing intense scrutiny from investors, rating agencies, and the media, County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins yesterday outlined a strategy the county hopes to use to restructure its $3.2 billion sewer debt program.

Collins at a news conference said she will ask fellow county commissioners to seek permission from the state Legislature to apply excess revenues from a local one-cent sales tax toward the county's sewer debt service payments. Those costs soared after bond insurance company downgrades sent interest rates skyrocketing. Nearly all of the county's sewer program debt is in auction- and variable-rate securities.

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