Jefferson County works to obtain bridge loan

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County is talking with Regions Bank about a bridge loan to help bring more than a thousand workers back to work and to open up four satellite courthouses again.

"I think it is very good news for the county. We will proceed with the work to bring that about. I'm quite pleased Regions Bank is stepping up to the plate to help us out."says Commission President Bettye Fine Collins.

Collins says it will take $25 million to bring back the workers and to open the satellite courthouses. The bridge loan will cover the county until money starts to come in from the new occupational tax.

Financial analyst, Stewart Welch says Regions would not do this deal unless it was guaranteed the loan would be paid back.

"There is no way they are taking on a 21 million dollar loan uncollateralized loan from a bankrupt county. That is not going to happen." says Welch.

Welch expects Jefferson County would pledge part of its new job tax to pay off the loan. Still not alll county commissioners like the loan plan." I think we need to live within our budget until we really see where we are going into the future. Borrowing money is not a step good step in that direction." says Commissioner Jim Carns.

Jefferson County employees have been on administrative leave without pay. They hoped to be recalled by September 14th. But even with the loan, that may not happen."As much as we've tried we have been unable to bring them back by the 14th."says Collins.

Commissioners are looking to send home letters to the employees on leave to consider an extension until October 10th. One county commissioner objects to this idea.

"We got people, their families are suffering. The employees are suffering. I had one guy tell me he is ten dollars between him and bankruptcy." says Commissioner Bobby Humphryes.