The Bankrupt County and the Future of Chapter 9

I have students in my class on the Urban Context work on trying to fix a municipal budget for Vallejo, a city with a budget that looks more like rotting toe than anything workable. Even so, Vallejo is fantasyland, a place where where there are still quite a few well-to-do residents (we’re still talking coastal California here. And California has way, way more state services than the state we’re going to talk about today.)

The NYT has this story about Jefferson County Alabama going bankrupt.

Reading through, I like this story a great deal, and I’m not generally a fan of the New York Times. Unlike the standard WSJ take on government bankruptcies, which creates a narrative that screams about mismanagement, this story actually helps us understand the ways in which state laws can cripple municipal budgeting practice. It also doesn’t sugarcoat the contributions from the mismanagement and local tax aversion. Honestly, who can’t afford $18 a month for sewers. (You should see what we pay in in LA County, folks). However, the average resident of Birmingham isn’t affluent, and rising fees for rising capital costs understandably hurt.

Go take a look and see what you think.

2 thoughts on “The Bankrupt County and the Future of Chapter 9

  1. it’s kind of stretch to call vallejo coastal, no? coastal california conveys an image to the rest of the country and the rest of california. vallejo (i’ve been there) doesn’t fit it. yes, the town’s on water, and there must be some nicer parts, but it’s few people’s notion of coastal cal

  2. It’s on inlet in the Bay Area. That’s hardly a hardscrabble, dust-dry town in the Central Valley. I guess if you only think of coastal California as Malibu and San Diego, you’re right. The point about it being on the water means that there are real possibilities for redevelopment.

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