Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 27, 2014

RUSS out to collect past-due accounts

By TRISHA PHELPS, Golden Triangle News Service | Jan 14, 2013

MOUNT PLEASANT (GTNS) — According to Regional Utility Service Systems officials, the city of Mount. Union is $19,600 past due on its residential billing accounts, and RUSS has decided it is time to do something about it.

According to RUSS Executive Director Bruce Hudson, the organization’s attorney filed paperwork Dec. 26 at the Henry County Courthouse for legal action against Mount Union.

RUSS has filed a petition for specific performance against the city. The petition would enforce the 28E agreement that Mount Union had previously agreed to, but did not uphold.

While admitting he has a limited legal knowledge, Hudson explained the petition to the RUSS board during its meeting Wednesday.

“My understanding is not legal, but [the petition] requires them — their city board — to fulfill the obligation in the 28E agreement,” he said. “This would indemnify any 60-day-plus past-due accounts.”

The $19,600 comes from past-due sewer fees of users in Mount Union, some dating back to 2010, according to Kathy Dye, RUSS finance and office manager.

“Some did make that first payment in 2010, and then just never paid after that,” Dye said.

Of the 62 users in Mount Union, 17 users are not paying their sewer fees.

The sewer fees go toward operation, maintenance and to help pay back the USDA loan used to build the system.

The past-due sewer fees going unpaid have caused financial difficulties for RUSS, and the board could find no other alternative than to move forward with legal action against the city of Mount Union.

“I’ve been trying to have a resolution since day one that I’ve been here, but you can only go so far. We have got to pay bills,” said Hudson. “It all comes down to the city authorities not following their agreement.”

Mount Union is not the only city that has past-due accounts with RUSS. RUSS also has been working on getting the city of Franklin’s balance up to date.

Franklin’s past-due balance of $19,914.10 stems from a project in August 2009, in which the city signed a 28E agreement with RUSS to provide services to put in a sewer system, and later backed out on.

According to Dye, RUSS went into partnership with Franklin and hired an engineer to do a preliminary engineering report on the project. After receiving the information from the report, the city decided to go in a different direction. According to the 28E agreement Franklin signed, the city would have to pay for RUSS services up until it backed out.

The city of Franklin did not hold up its end of the 28E, according to Dye.

“Of the $19,914.10, $18,642 is what is owed to the engineers for the project. The remainder is the expenses that RUSS incurred,” explained Dye.

Hudson has been working to settle the debt with Franklin.

“I have been, in the last several months, writing back and forth to the city of Franklin and a few months ago got a letter from their chair, and they acknowledged the debt. I have now hired an attorney to try and settle it,” said Hudson.

The RUSS board welcomed several new supervisors at its Wednesday meeting.

The new supervisors are: Lee Dimmitt from Jefferson County; Bob Waugh from Van Buren County; Jim Cary from Des Moines County; Greg Moeller from Henry County; Mike Vader Molen from Mahaska County, ; and Jack Seward Jr. from Washington County.

The supervisors from Keokuk, Lee, Louisa and Wapello counties remained unchanged on the board.

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