A federal judge will decide soon whether a sparsely populated Idaho county can declare bankruptcy in a bid to stave off paying a legal judgment worth more than half of the county’s annual budget.
U.S. District Bankruptcy Judge Terry Meyers heard arguments last week between Boise County leaders — who contend the county is insolvent and bankruptcy is their last, and only, option — and developer Oaas-Laney LLC, which contends the county actually has a surplus of cash and is using shoddy book-keeping as an excuse to try to avoid paying their legal debts.
If Boise County is granted the bankruptcy, county officials will be allowed to restructure and possibly reduce the county’s debt to the Boise-based developer, which won $4 million in a federal lawsuit last year accusing the county of violating the Fair Housing Act.
The lawsuit came after Oaas-Laney tried to build Alamar Ranch, a proposed 72-bed treatment center and school for teens with mental illness or substance abuse problems. The developer said the county worked with neighbors who opposed Alamar Ranch and set impossible planning and zoning requirements — such as building a helicopter landing pad and new bridge — to keep the ranch from being built.
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