If the commission approves, Jefferson County will pledge surplus sales taxes to help meet debt service on its sewer bonds, Commission President Bettye Fine Collins said in a press conference Wednesday. Currently the county has only pledged net sewer revenues — money from ratepayers minus operating costs — to pay down the $3.24 billion in sewer debt. In recent years, the net sewer revenues have average about $130 million per year. After recent market events and Jefferson County's technical defaults, annual debt service on the sewer bonds could rise to $250 million or more, Collins said.
In 2004, the county enacted a one-cent sales tax hike for school construction. Then-Commission President Larry Langford championed the tax increase. Today, the sales tax produces more revenue than needed to pay the school bonds, Collins said.
However, it will take an act of the Alabama Legislature to redirect the surplus revenue.
Read the full text of Collins statement here.