Rogers proposes bill to combat sewer tax hikes

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM (WBRC) - A court-appointed receiver could recommend up to a 25 increase in sewer bills, according to Jefferson County Commissioners.

In September of last year, John Young, a New Jersey water works executive was appointed by a circuit court judge to find ways to pay off the county's massive $3 billion sewer debt. Young is paid $500 an hour out of sewer proceeds to completely oversee Jefferson County's sewer department.

If Young's 25 percent increase plan goes through, Birmingham Rep. John Rogers is already preparing a bill to stop the county from imposing any new taxes on low income residents. He is also considering passing a bill calling for a referendum before any sewer rate increase is granted.

"Stop paying bills at all. You are taking food out of their mouths. That receiver is wrong. Someone has to stop him," Rogers said.

Several county commissioners are also opposed to such a large rate increase, who believe the tax hikes will come about in 60 days.

"To me as a commissioner, I think 25 percent is personally unconscionable and I would suggest going to court so that will not affect our citizens," Commissioner Jimmie Stephens said.

Many sewer customers are already complaining, saying their current bills are already too high.

"Ridiculous. I think everything is going up but minimal wage. They are pressing on the poor down here." Lou Weaver, a sewer customer said. "It's been outrageous. Outrageous."

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