League logoTHE VOTER
A Publication of The League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham

Published February 2006

Jefferson County Commission

In a letter dated February 3, the Environmental Protection Agency notified Jefferson County of thirteen clean-water rules and provisions violations of the court agreement governing the county’s $3 billion sewer rehabilitation program.  The violations include sewage overflowing into the Cahaba River Basin, sewage plant overflows even during dry weather, sewage bypassing wastewater treatment plants and water-quality violations at the Cahaba, Leeds and Trussville plants.  The EPA has requested to meet with county officials and attorneys to discuss the violations and possible penalties.  Jefferson County is under a 1996 federal court consent decree to fix leaky sewers and end direct discharges of sewage into streams.

Jefferson County also has exhibited problems setting and following departmental budgets.  Between October 1, 2005 (the beginning of the fiscal year) and January 30, Jefferson County passed 98 budget amendments.  The county with the next highest amendments is Baldwin County, with 51.  Shelby County had none.  In 2004 the JCC paid $592,000 for a study by Auburn University that pointed out this practice as a serious flaw in the county’s budget process.

Defusing growing hostility between Jefferson County and City of Birmingham officials was the purpose of a breakfast meeting between Birmingham mayor Bernard Kincaid and JCC president Larry Langford in early February.  Langford has publicly criticized the city for failure to act on projects such as the Railroad Reservation Park and the loss of a U.S. national team soccer game.  After the meeting both Langford and Kincaid said they would work on better communications between city and county governments.

[See "White says fines could cut sewer repair money"by Barnett Wright, Birmingham News, 2/10/06.]

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