Bessemer courthouse may close in September; Leases rejected

Jefferson County Commissioners voted Monday to reject leases at the Bessemer courthouse. The decision could force the closure of the courthouse by September 27th.{}{}That means people living in Bessemer would have to travel to the main Jefferson County courthouse in Birmingham to conduct much of their business.

Commissioners want a lower lease rate for the courthouse. "Sooner or later everyone is going to have to realize this county is bankrupt. It is the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States.. $4.3 billion," said Commission President David Carrington.

The leases are held by the Public Building Authority and it has refused to reduce the lease amount at this point. If the county and the PBA do not come to terms the Bessemer courthouse will have to close. "It's a catastrophe. {}An overloaded courthouse... you put all those people who go to the Bessemer courthouse and bring them in here (Birmingham) and try to service them. It creates an impossible situation," said Commissioner Jimmie Stephens.