RUSS director, board aren't pleased with progress of legal action versus Mt. Union
By TRISHA PHELPS
Mt. Pleasant News
Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) Executive director Bruce Hudson is not happy with the way the legal action with Mt. Union is progressing.
“I don’t know how to say this, but I am not impressed. I think that is the best way to put it,” Hudson told the board members at Wednesday’s RUSS board meeting. “I am just not impressed with the pace. When we went into mediation, I thought we were truly going into mediation to resolve this.
“We may be there — and they may call it mediation — but I don’t see the pace I would like to see,” Hudson said.
RUSS and the City of Mt. Union have been in mediation since their court hearing on Sept. 16, 2013.
Hudson wasn’t the only member of the board who felt things weren’t progressing fast enough.
“I agree. I thought mediation would be a little quicker,” said Daryl Wood, supervisor from Keokuk county.
The mediation is over the enforcement of a 28E agreement between the city and RUSS. According to the 28E, Mt. Union currently owes RUSS $27,038.03 for past due sewer services.
RUSS began working with the City of Mt. Union in the summer of 2008 on their sewer system,. Since that time, 17 of the 62 users have not paid their sewer bill, resulting in a large debt. Currently, 13 users are not paying.
Hudson informed the RUSS board that recently Mt. Union passed an ordinance requiring residents in Mt. Union to make their payments. According to the ordinance, if residents do not make their payments, a letter will be sent out notifying the property owner of the delinquent balance. The property owner will then have 30 days from the date of the letter to pay their bill. If the bill is not paid within 30 days of the date on the letter, the city clerk will then certify the amount to the Henry County Treasurer for collection in the same manner as the general taxes.
After Hudson explained to the board that Mt. Union had voted to put this policy in place, questions then arose on if the policy is actively being carried out.
“Is it actually being enforced?” asked Lee Dimmet, supervisor from Jefferson County asked.
“The structure may be there, but they have to proactively engage it,” said Jack Seward, supervisor from Washington County.
“If you are taking the appropriate steps to make sure the stuff within the contract is enforceable, why don’t you just enforce it? That is where we are at with this,” said Hudson. “Ultimately it is up to the city council.
“The changes and mediation and the implementation of policies that they didn’t implement previously is now impacting them,” continued Hudson. “It is up to the city council now.”
The board also:
• Discussed legal service agreement with Foss, Kuiken and Cochran, P.C. for the Ollie project.
• Discussed the system vulnerability assessment and emergency plans.
• Discussed Argyle wastewater rehab.
• Discussed Mahaska and Wapello Counties arbitration.
The next RUSS board meeting will be Jan. 8 at 1 p.m. in the Henry County Emergency Management building.