RUSS will get proceeds from Mt. Union lot sales
BY BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Some money is coming to the Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) from the City of Mt. Union.
During Wednesday’s monthly RUSS board meeting, directors approved the release of liens on three lots in Mt. Union, owned by the city, once RUSS receives payment from sale proceeds of the lots.
RUSS will receive just over $11,500 from the sale of the lots, but Bruce Hudson, executive director of RUSS, said Mt. Union is still on the hook for indemnification to RUSS for delinquent user bills.
“The key here is that Mt. Union is continuing the process to unincorporation, which means the county would eventually take over. Mt. Union still will have to pay what remains to be owed to us.”
Hudson said two more city lots will be sold in February, and RUSS also has liens on those lots. He also informed the board that RUSS won a small-claims lawsuit against a Mt. Union resident and was awarded $1,385.78, 2.82 percent interest from Dec. 31, 2016, and $3,500 in attorney fees.
“It’s unfortunate it had to come to this,” he reflected concerning litigation. “It could have been settled for a lot less.”
According to the RUSS aging report, some $32,923.42 in sewer fees for Mt. Union residents is 60 days or over past due. In addition, $8,007.97 in Mt. Union residential sewer bills is currently owed. December payments to RUSS are due Jan. 15.
There is a possibility of two more shut-off valves being placed on users’ sewer lines in Mt. Union, Hudson told the board. Three shut-off notices were sent to residents, but one resident paid his/her bill, he said.
Asked when those shut-off valves will be attached Hudson said, “as soon as I can find a contractor.” He added that even though notices have been sent, the matter could still be settled in small-claims court or with total payment.
He said whether or not the structure is inhabited determines whether RUSS installs a shut-off valve or the matter is taken to small-claims court. If the residence is inhabited, a shut-off valve is installed.
In a final matter concerning Mt. Union, the RUSS executive director said a resident has been served with papers for small-claims court action. “Just because a shut-off valve is installed doesn’t mean that is the last step in the process. We have to be paid in full before the valve is removed.
Six shut-off valve notices were sent to Pleasant Plain residents and four to Ollie citizens. Hudson said four of the Pleasant Plain residents and three from Ollie paid their bills.
A teleconference is planned for tomorrow with the Poweshiek Rural Water Association regarding RUSS either owning and operating wastewater plants or just operating the systems in some of the communities served by the association.
“Poweshiek brought to my attention another community that might want us to manage its system,” Hudson reported. “It is a rather large community and would give us more customers than we have now.”
Final agenda items included Hudson relating that he would be attending a small business conference in Washington, D.C., in February and also hoped to meet with Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst while in Washington.
Hudson also told the board that county dues will remain at $10,000 in fiscal 2018.
Daryl “Deke” Wood, RUSS board president from Keokuk County, asked if the dues would drop below $10,000 if RUSS is asked to manage some other systems.
“We will address that if it happens,” answered Hudson. “I just wanted to let you know (the dues amount) now because counties are working on their budgets.”
RUSS board members meet again Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 1 p.m., in the Henry County Emergency Management Building in Mt. Pleasant.