A Sign Of Things To Come?

Alabama County Set to Halt Services, Shut Buildings (Update1)
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By William Selway and Kathleen Edwards
June 5 (Bloomberg) -- Alabama’s most populous county is preparing to stop road maintenance, close courthouses and shutter services for the elderly after a court struck down taxes that pay for about 35 percent of its budget.
Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham, released a plan to cut $52 million from its budget as it appeals the ruling against its business and occupational taxes to the Alabama Supreme Court. Without that revenue, the county has said it is at risk of running out of money as soon as this month.
The loss of the tax money was another blow to a county that has been struggling to avoid bankruptcy since last year, when Wall Street’s financial crisis caused its interest bills to soar on more than $3 billion of bonds. The challenged taxes provided about $75 million in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 to the county, which is forced to balance its budget under state law.
“I’m not expecting that this is going to go easy into the night, but I’m abiding by the law,” county Commission President Bettye Fine Collins, a Republican, told reporters in Birmingham. “People who thought this was some kind of game are finding out this reality.”
The proposed cuts, outlined in a series of proposed resolutions released today by Collins, would slash deeply into the government’s services and include closing a nursing home for the indigent, declaring a moratorium on enforcing zoning and littering laws, and scrapping local development contracts. They would also bring a halt to the enforcement of building codes, close the county’s laundry, and shut down the agency that assists senior citizens.
Can’t Use Funds
The proposals come a day after Alabama circuit court judge David Rains ruled that the county can’t spend the disputed job tax money while it waits for an appeal. They will need to be voted upon by the Jefferson County Commission, a five-person body that has been divided over how to resolve unrelated financial problems brought on by the more than $3 billion debt of its sewer system, which is in default.
The county for more than a year has been unable to make the full payments on those bonds. The interest bill jumped by some $107 million from early 2008 through March of this year, after the bond insurers backing the floating-rate debt lost their AAA credit ratings, according to the county’s estimate. When investors sold the securities, the interest rates jumped as high as 10 percent.
County officials have said they can’t raise sewer rates high enough to pay for the bonds without placing an undue strain on the poor. In Birmingham, a city of 230,000, 27 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, more than double the national rate, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
To contact the reporter on this story: William Selway in San Francisco at wselway@bloomberg.net.

Here is an example of municipal government overpromising to the voters and now being unable to deliver.
Let's do the math:
$3 billion borrowed in the bond market to replace the sewer sytem.
230,000 population.
$13,043 per person in the county.
Family of four would owe $52,172!
This includes the county debt only.
No state debts are included.
No federal debts are included.
No unfunded liabilities are included.

How do these officials get voted into office?

Are they insane, stupid, or indifferent?

What about the voters that put them in positions of power?

I just don't understand how a county could get this deep into the red.