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Mt. Union files injunction against RUSS regarding shut-offs

Jun 20, 2013
Photo by: Trisha Phelps Members of the Mt. Union City Council met in special session last night at the Mt. Union community center to discuss the legal situation regarding Regional Utility Service Systems recent shut-off notices. Pictured from left are council member Robyn Buffington, attorney Barbara Edmondson, council member Shawn Bencze and council member/mayor pro tem Ben Johnson.


Mt. Pleasant News

MT. UNION — After receiving potential shut-off notices from Regional Utility Service Systems, the Mt. Union City Council held a special session council meeting Wednesday night during which they voted to file an injunction against Regional Utility Service Systems and discussed legal strategy with their attorney, Barbara Edmondson.

The injunction was filed in Henry County District Court today, June 20.

During last night’s meeting, the council voted to go into closed session with their attorney, who, after the 15-minute closed session, recommended that the council file for an injunction against RUSS.

“RUSS has passed a resolution and has apparently sent some notices to local residents indicating they will be installing shut-off valves on those who have accounts they claim to be delinquent,” said Edmondson. “The purpose of that injunction would be to prevent that from happening while those lawsuits are pending.

According to a statement made by Mayor John Marek, the notice of termination that was sent by RUSS stated that for accounts that are over 60 days past due, RUSS would begin terminating service if the account if not made current within seven days from the notice’s date.

The notices were dated June 13, which would make June 20 the last day of the seven-day notice time.

“As I have discussed with the council and as we have responded in our court paperwork, it is the city’s position— in fact, it is not just the position, it is the fact — that the agreement that RUSS is trying to enforce against the city of Mt. Union was never approved by the council,” continued Edmondson.

Edmondson stated that the minutes of the council meeting from Aug. 6, 2008, showed that the council insisted that they have their legal council review the agreement before signing it, but that the council did not vote to sign the agreement with RUSS.

“As a result, the agreement was never approved, though Ms. Lewiston (RUSS’ then executive director) took a copy back to RUSS that had apparently been signed by the mayor, again, not approved by the council, and that is something the documents in the case so far show,” stated Edmondson. “The critical issue was that while it may have been anticipated at some point that this agreement would be approved, it never was.”

However, according to a copy of the minutes of the Aug. 6, 2008 meeting, obtained by The News, after a lengthy discussion a motion was made and seconded to sign the agreement with RUSS. Later in that meeting, a motion was made and passed to have Rande McAllister review the recommendation for the joint agreement with RUSS.

Also during the Aug. 6, 2008 meeting, an amendment was made to the previous motion that if McAllister could not review the joint agreement, the mayor had the power to take said document to Bainter/Thomas for review.

Three council members — Robyn Buffington; Shawn Bencze and Ben Johnson, mayor pro tem — were present at last night’s meeting, as well as Edmondson. Mt. Union Mayor John Marek was present via phone.


Comments (2)
Posted by: Steve Wilson | Jun 21, 2013 08:47

However...?  I am confused. It appears to me the bottom line is - the agreement was not signed. Is that correct?


Posted by: Steve Wilson | Jun 21, 2013 10:00

I see now on the Iowa Secretary of State Website that Mt. Union Mayor Dan Johnson signed a 28E agreement with RUSS on the 7th day of August 2008.  Based on the above article might the question be, was he authorized at that time by the city council to do so? 

Reading the 28E agreement between RUSS and Mt. Union the language is very specific requiring RUSS to supply uninterrupted service to the customers and requiring the City of Mt. Union to cover late sewer service payments to RUSS.

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