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Alabama County Near Vote on Record Bankruptcy Filing

Leaders in Alabama's most populous county say it's time to resolve a multibillion-dollar debt left by questionable sewer financing.

The Jefferson County commission meets later Thursday to consider filing what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The main problem is more than $3.1 billion in sewer debt. But officials say the total value of the bankruptcy would exceed $4.1 billion once the county's other debts are included.

County officials are still hoping to avoid filing bankruptcy by reaching a last-minute settlement with Wall Street lenders. But commissioners say they'd rather file for bankruptcy protection than saddle residents with double-digit sewer rate increases after three years of talks.

Investigations showed that bribes and influence-peddling were behind many of the deals at the heart of the sewer debt crisis.

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