Anyway, back in the mid-nineties, the average sewer bill for a Jefferson County family of four was only $14.71. By the time I wrote my story earlier this year, most citizens were paying about four times that amount – and as of this summer, the average JeffCo sewer bill was $63. Well, the news now comes out that rates will go up again, and in the best case scenario they will jump 25% a year. The worst case? Jefferson County sewer rates could jump as much as 527%, with some estimates placing the average monthly bill as high as $395 a month.
So I talked to a couple of the lawyers involved in this case. What basically happened here is that when some of the monoline insurance companies who were insuring Jefferson County’s bonds saw their credit ratings downgraded in 2008, that triggered language in the count’s bond deals that accelerated their debt payments. Specifically, thanks to those downgrades, Jefferson County was suddenly legally obligated to retire $800 million in bonds in four years.