The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Sewer Mess

The Jefferson County Commission has passed a resolution that will allow questions regarding the $3.2 billion sewer debt to be on the November ballot (thus creating longer lines and frustrated voters dealing with an issue that should have been solved long before the election).

This county commission does not inspire confidence. I went to the public hearing Wednesday night in Bessemer, with Bobby Humphryes and Jim Carns and here is what the title page of their power point presentation looked like.

Jefferson County, AL


Now I admit that more often that I like I misspell words on this blog, but when preparing a power point presentation I take extra steps to assure my spelling is correct. Presenation? Jeffrson?

Of the 150 or so people at the event, only a handful, probably less than 10, (other than elected officials) were black. Why? Because the event was sponsored by white Republican commissioners? Because they realize that their opinions do not matter to the commissioners that are supposed to serve them?

And probably less than 20 were under 35 years of age, and most were of retirement age. Why? Because everyone is affected by this, even those who are not rate payers. The cost will trickle down to everyone, in one way or another. Was it because young people do not watch the news? Or feel disenfranchised by the whole commission, which, unlike the mayor and council, seem far distant and in their own little world?

Anyway, now the commission has put forth a resolution which will allow the voters of the county to answer questions in November. This problem can not wait until November. But the questions will be there anyway. There is a poll over to the left where you can vote on these questions in essence. Please participate, voting is anonymous. Comments are welcome.

FIRST QUESTION Jefferson County confronts a crisis involving a sewer debt of $3.25 billion that was incurred under court order pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act. Which of the following courses of action should be taken by the county? Select One:

Attempt to implement a plan under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy law that would repudiate all or a significant part of the sewer debt.

Default on the payment of the sewer debt and accept the appointment of a receiver for the sewer system with power to raise sewer rates within the limits of the law to remedy such default.

Pay the sewer debt in full by reducing the amount payable from sewer revenues and using various tax revenues to pay a portion of the debt.

SECOND QUESTION The Jefferson County sewer system benefits the entire county by preventing the contamination of streams and assuring the sanitary treatment of waste in accordance with the environmental standards of the federal government. Health and recreational benefits accrue to citizens who do not directly use the system as well as to those who do. Is it fair for only those citizens directly using the sewer system to bear the entire burden of the cost?:



THIRD QUESTION The Retirement Systems of Alabama ("RSA") has publicized a proposal that calls for Jefferson County to attempt the implementation of a plan under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy law which involves the repudiation of a major portion of the sewer debt and the sale of the sewer system to RSA.

(A) Since lowering the price to be paid by RSA will increase the remainder of the $3.25 billion in sewer debt that must be repudiated, what is the price that should be paid by RSA?:

$1 billion or more but less than $2.0 billion
$2.0 billion or more but less than $3.0 billion

(B) Should there by any restriction on the subsequent right of RSA to sell the sewer system to a private company?



(C) Should the county require indemnity from RSA or any subsequent purchaser for future liability arising under federal or state environmental laws?



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