Jefferson County’s woes continue
Bankrupt Jefferson County, Ala., has sent new layoff notices to several dozen government workers with the prospect of an equal number of layoffs by the end of May. The county, which last year filed America’s biggest municipal bankruptcy, has already shed about 700 workers and has little chance of getting approval to revive a local jobs tax to maintain its payroll, according to Reuters.
County officials have sent new layoff letters to 75 employees, with another 80 layoffs expected by the end of the month. The county needs approval from the state legislature to restore a local employment tax that delivered $66 million annually.
But getting that approval seems unlikely. The Jefferson County delegation of state legislators, divided along partisan political lines, cannot agree on a bill. Without their support, the tax bill cannot clear the legislature before the current session ends May 21.
Without some kind of revenue fix, the county will struggle to exit Chapter 9 bankruptcy, county officials said. “They [the state legislators] can keep kicking the can, but every year without a fix adds a year to recovery,” County Commission President David Carrington told Reuters.
The previous massive cuts are already stinging. Residents wait for five hours or more to get new car tags in the county. Some county departments, like Information Technology, have seen staffs cut by half.
Jefferson County filed a $4.27 billion bankruptcy in November after failing to reach a deal with its creditors. County finances collapsed under a credit rating downgrade, massive sewer-system debt, political corruption including charges of bribery and kick-backs, and a ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court that invalidated the county’s jobs tax.