The majority of the American workforce worries about money, and it is only natural. Money provides them with shelter, keeps their bellies full, ensures everyone in the family are protected from illnesses and accidents and allows them to care for their children so they can be more successful than themselves. Indeed, financial problems are also the number one reason that couples get divorced. The greatest fear for those who worry about money is the thought of going bankrupt and having all of their assets, everything they have worked so hard for, completely disappear. An individual having to go through bankruptcy is rough enough, but when an entire town does, it can be absolutely devastating.
What happens when an entire town is forced into bankruptcy? Not even lawyers know, according to this local CBS station in Alabama. The town of Courtland in Lawrence County has begun laying off city workers in order to save what little money they have left. The town is tiny, too. There are only two workers who man the town hall, and their hours have been cut such that they each only work four days a week. In addition, the town has only a single full-time police officer, and the city council even cut the hours of the chief of police himself from full-time to part-time. On a Wednesday, for most a typical weekday, the police office was completely closed. The town has nearly become a ghost town, with most shops in the town square remaining closed due to lack of business. The local golf course which employed five workers has also been shut down. The local residents claim that Courtland’s downfall began with the construction of a major highway that completely bypassed the bulk of the town. Commuters and travelers on their way to bigger cities are no longer funneling money into the town. In addition to the new highway, the locals also blame the city council for extravagant spending when funds were low. A third reason the town is on the verge of bankruptcy is the closure of a local paper company a few years ago that was the largest source of income for the entire county and employed the most workers.
The decline of small town America has been continuing for decades as more and more people move to cities for job opportunities. Bringing in new industries such as software development to dying towns is a viable solution for some, but this kind of change takes an extraordinary amount of time and resources. Many rural towns cannot even get a decent internet connection, and the initial investment for laying new cable is a large risk that telecommunications companies are hesitant to make.
For the average man, bankruptcy is a terrifying proposition, but talented bankruptcy lawyers can help make the process more manageable. Unfortunately, when it’s an entire town that goes bankrupt, options are limited. It may be possible or even necessary that the state provide emergency funding to these towns solely to ensure that the residents of the town can keep working and making a living.