Expensive Sewer Drives County to Bankruptcy
Governing reports on a series of poor decisions that lead to the county's woes.
"As sewer rates rose to meet those costs and Jefferson County struggled under its debt, county officials looked for a way to lessen its loan payments. In 2002 and 2003, they refinanced their bonds with variable-rate and auction-rate securities. Auction-rate securities are bonds where the interest rate is reset by auctions conducted by brokerage firms every few weeks. 'It's a little like someone buying a house and getting a pretty good 30-year fixed-rate mortgage,' says Christopher 'Kit' Taylor, former executive director of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. 'Then somebody says, 'Why don't you get an adjustable-rate mortgage?''"