Jefferson County commissioners Tuesday adopted an $808 million budget for fiscal 2010 that includes funding to return most laid-off county employees to work next month, according to the Birmingham News.

Nearly 1,000 employees were laid off in August after the county lost about one-third of the revenue supporting the general fund when an occupational tax was struck down by the Alabama Supreme Court.

State lawmakers held a special session and reauthorized the tax Aug. 14, but collections from that day forward won’t be enough to support bringing back laid-off workers until Oct. 10.

Earlier this month, the county began negotiating with Birmingham-based Regions Bank for a $25 million bridge loan in hopes of bringing back employees sooner. The loan would be repaid with occupational tax revenues.

But the bridge loan has been controversial because of the county’s debt problems, and because of constant talk that it could be forced to file for municipal bankruptcy. Just this week, local publications reported that state Rep. Robert Bentley, R-Tuscaloosa, felt Jefferson County should deal with its debt problems by filing for bankruptcy. Bentley is among eight candidates running for governor next year.

The county recently negotiated another forbearance agreement to delay accelerated payments on $120 million of bank-held variable-rate general obligation debt. Still unresolved is $3.2 billion of outstanding variable- and auction-rate sewer debt in addition to $766.3 million of swap termination fees that four investment banks say they are owed.

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