In Alabama, a County That Fell Off the Financial Cliff
There is no money for the second one anymore.
The county roads here need paving, and the tax collector needs help.
There is no money for them, either.
There is no money for a lot of things around here, not since Jefferson County, population 658,000, went bankrupt last fall. There is no money for holiday D.U.I. checkpoints, litter patrols or overtime pay at the courthouse. None for crews to pull weeds or pick up road kill — not even when, as happened recently, an unlucky cow was hit near the town of Wylam.
“We don’t do that any more,” E. Wayne Sullivan, director of the roads and transportation department, said of such roadside cleanup.
This is life today in Jefferson County — Bankrupt, U.S.A. For all the talk in Washington about taxes and deficits, here is a place where government finances, and government itself, have simply broken down. The county, which includes the city of Birmingham, is drowning under $4 billion in debt, the legacy of a big sewer project and corrupt financial dealings that sent 17 people to prison.