Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 2, 2014

Hudson calls Mount Union action ‘unimpressive’

By TRISHA PHELPS | Dec 20, 2013

MT. PLEASANT (GTNS) – Regional Utility Service Systems Executive director Bruce Hudson is not happy with the way the legal action with Mount 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 Mount Union have been in mediation since their court hearing on Sept. 16.

Hudson wasn’t the only person who felt things were progressing too slowly.

“I agree. I thought mediation would be a little quicker,” said Daryl Wood, Keokuk County supervisor.

The mediation concerns enforcement of a 28E agreement between the city and RUSS. According to the 28E, Mount Union would owe RUSS approximately $27,000 for past due sewer services in Mount Union.

RUSS began working with the city of Mount Union on its sewer system in the summer of 2008. 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 Mount Union recently passed an ordinance requiring residents in the city 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. Property owners 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 general taxes.

After Hudson explained to the board that Mount Union had voted to put this policy in place, questions then arose about whether the policy is actively being carried out.

“Is it actually being enforced?” asked Lee Dimmet, Jefferson County supervisor.

“The structure may be there, but they have to proactively engage it,” said Jack Seward, Washington County supervisor.

“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 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 a 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; and

• discussed Mahaska and Wapello counties’ arbitration.

The next RUSS board meeting will be at 1 p.m. Jan. 8 in the Henry County Emergency Management building.

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