Bessemer to pay more than $1million in unpaid bills

The city of Bessemer owes Jefferson County more than a million dollars for unpaid bills, dating back ten years. Attorneys representing the city and the county have been working for a couple years to negotiate an exact amount they can agree to. Now, it appears they've finally reached a deal. {}"The problem was somebody weren't paying and the moneys were still out there," said Sandra Little Brown, Jefferson County Commissioner. "The invoices were out there and they're saying that they owe this. The county is saying that we owe this. There was no resolution to who owed what. But, we have gotten down to the real facts."Those are facts that Jefferson County and Bessemer both have come to terms with.Thursday, county commissioners are expected to vote on a resolution stating Bessemer would pay nearly $1.1 million to the county. "It's just settling up of old debts that's disputed on both sides over the years but I think this is a way to kind of zero it out and start over," explained Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight. Unpaid bills include road projects, signal maintenance, and emergency management costs. The most expensive bill was for personnel board costs. "What we do with our personal board fees- we pay them. We pay the personal board and bill the cities," said Jefferson County Commissioner Jimmie Stephens.Bessemer City Councilman Chleo King says the city is prepared to pay, "From our general fund, we've been financially sound over the last three and a half years so we're in the position that we can pay those funds to the county."The city hasn't voted on the deal yet, but king believes it's in the best interest of the tax payer. "It makes this county, Jefferson county move forward," King said. "It makes the city move forward. It makes us, as leaders pull together and get issues resolved so we can move the best interest and use those tax dollars for the best interest of this county."Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley tells ABC 3340 he's happy this is at a point where it can be resolved. He adds that he agrees with the figure they've arrived at for payment.City debt is not limited to Bessemer.Commissioner Jimmie Stephens said when they started working on this two years ago, there was about $11 million owed to the county from municipalities within Jefferson County.Now that number is much lower. County leaders are working to get us an updated list.