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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 11, 2016

Mount Union makes progress on bill to RUSS

By BROOKS TAYLOR Golden Triangle News Service | Oct 17, 2016

MOUNT UNION (GTNS) – Ever so slowly, the City of Mount Union’s bill to the Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) is decreasing, RUSS Executive Director Bruce Hudson told RUSS board of directors Wednesday during their monthly meeting.

Hudson said one of several district court judgments won by RUSS against Mount Union has been satisfied. However, Mount Union still owes several judgment amounts and attorney fees for past district court hearings. Hudson said the judgment that was paid came through a garnishment of city funds and city payment. Hudson, when asked, said he doesn’t know the balance of the city’s debt to RUSS.

Delinquent bills owed to RUSS by Mount Union residents amount to about $31,000, he said. If residents do not pay the bills, the city is responsible for indemnification.

Mount Union residents, however, aren’t the only customers not paying.

In his report, Hudson said over a dozen letters were sent to Argyle residents, who are in arrears. “Since the letters were sent, we had four people rectify their bills and another said the bill would be paid,” Hudson said.

RUSS was planning to install 10 shut-off valves to Argyle residents Thursday and said five would be installed in Ollie next week. Three residents with delinquent bills in Ollie, have paid their bills, Hudson said.

Negotiations, Hudson said, are still continuing with several communities concerning RUSS maintaining and operating their wastewater systems. Hudson reported that RUSS is looking at operating five systems and has been approached by four more communities to operate their systems.

“We’ve discussed this for a long time,” Hudson said. “Hopefully, this can get finished soon.” RUSS was initially approached about maintaining and operating the systems late last year.

Construction of a system to serve Mooar-Powdertown appears to be a no-go — for now. Hudson said he met with a number of Lee County officials recently. “The problem needs to be addressed by the individual homeowners. At this time, it does not look like we will be putting in a system. I made it clear to Mooar-Powdertown that we are not a regulatory authority. I just gave them my input.” Hudson said in the past that putting in a system to serve Mooar-Powdertown would be cost-prohibitive for the users.

Agenda items for the meeting were scant. The board did appoint Van Buren County Supervisor Bob Waugh as an alternate to the RUSS hearing board. The board handles requests from RUSS customers concerning delinquent bills. Currently, the board is comprised of board officers Deke Wood, president; Lee Dimmitt, vice president; and Chris Ball, secretary. If one member of the hearing board cannot be present at a hearing, Waugh would serve as a member of the board. Hudson said it is important to have a three-member hearing board in the event of needing a tie-breaking vote.

Finally, the board approved a final payment of $1,800 to Randy’s Plumbing of Cantril for the Argyle forcemain project. The board also approved payment of $1,300 to Randy’s that will be held as retainage for 30 days.

RUSS board members meet again in regular session Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 1 p.m., at the Henry County Emergency Management building.

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