BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The plan Jefferson County commissioners developed to exit bankruptcy includes sewer rate increases.
Commissioners approved several plan support agreements with the majority of sewer creditors on Tuesday.
According to county officials, those creditors have agreed to concede about a billion dollars of the debt. Approximately $1.8 billion remains.
“You negotiate it as low as you can. Was I hoping for a lower number, sure, but you got to take the reality with the situation,” Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight said.
To cover the debt, commissioners say sewer rate increases are needed. An increase of 7.4 percent will go into effect in November and last four years. That calculates to an increase of approximately $2.82 per month for the average sewer customer.
After four years, the increase drops to 3.4 percent. That’s about $1.33 per month, based on the current rate.
“There is no other way to raise the revenue to pay off the creditors. We bargained as hard as we could to keep the rates as low as we could,” Jefferson County bankruptcy attorney Ken Klee said.
Commissioner George Bowman voted against the plan that includes the increase. He says some residents simply can’t afford it however he does not have another plan to increase revenue.
“Our people are catching Hell right now just paying the rates that we got,” Bowman said.
Commissioners who voted for the plan say it’s the best way to exit bankruptcy and begin to correct the financial mess.