BIRMINGHAM, Alabama, March 2 Alabama's Jefferson County is looking to hire business advisors FTI Consulting Inc (FCN.N) to help sort out massive debts that may force America's biggest municipal bankruptcy.
County officials have been in talks with FTI and expect to vote on March 8 on an agreement, according to Richard Finley, chief of operations for Jefferson County Commissioner George Bowman.
Approval for an agreement "just came out of the Finance Committee yesterday, and the issue will be voted on at the next commission meeting," Finley said.
Home to Alabama's biggest city, Birmingham, Jefferson County has tottered at the edge of municipal bankruptcy since 2008 under debts tied to sewer and water systems that total at least $3.2 billion.
Alabama's new governor, Republican Robert Bentley, warned in an interview last month with Reuters that the county should strongly consider filing Chapter 9 bankruptcy --if its creditors failed to make concessions.
Such a move would be the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Officials of FTI, based in West Palm Beach, Florida, were not immediately available to comment. The firm said last week in an earnings report that it expected its corporate and restructuring consultancies to be sluggish in fiscal 2011. (Reporting by Reuters in Birmingham; Writing and additional reporting by Michael Connor in Miami; Editng by Jan Paschal )