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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 22, 2017

Henry County OKs 28E pact with RUSS about Mount Union

By Brooks Taylor, Golden Triangle News Service | Apr 27, 2017

MT. PLEASANT (GTNS) – Another step was taken Tuesday morning by the Henry County Board of Supervisors concerning the transition of Mount Union from an incorporated community to its current standing as an unincorporated part of the county.

The supervisors approved a 28E agreement between the county and the Regional Utility Service Systems concerning future sewer fees paid by Mount Union residents.

During a community meeting April 12 in Mount Union, supervisors said they were going to “wipe the slate clean” on Mount Union residents’ delinquent sewer bills. According to an aging report released during the April 12 RUSS monthly board of directors’ meeting, Mount Union residents owed $28,010.20 in past due (60 days or over) bills and $7,114.11 in March payments. However, March bills were not due until April 15, or after the board meeting.

Secondly, county officials said during the community meeting in Mount Union that after the June billing, all future bills would come to the county and be attached as a special assessment to residential property taxes.

County officials do not know how much they will have to pay to settle Mount Union delinquent bills but anticipate the amount to be between $30,000-$50,000. At the meeting, officials said they will take money from the economic development fund to satisfy RUSS accounts. The county does not expect to recoup the money it pays to RUSS on behalf of Mount Union for at least three years.

The agreement signed by the supervisors Tuesday is similar to 28E agreements RUSS has with other municipalities in which they have financed sanitary sewer systems.

“It is a pretty straight forward 28E agreement,” noted Bruce Hudson, RUSS executive director.

“It transfers the powers from the City of Mount Union to the county,” added Supervisor Greg Moeller, also a member of the RUSS board. “We have basically taken over.”

The RUSS board was expected to act on the agreement during a special meeting via conference call at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Randy Wilkerson of Mount Union, a former city councilman, said he had no problems with the 28E agreement. “If the city had done its job, we wouldn’t be in this position.”

Bob Stott of Danville, who owns rental property in Mount Union, said he fears that many Mount Union residents won’t be able to satisfy their property tax bill with the special RUSS assessment attached.

“It might be better to let the Mount Union residents pay monthly on their sewer bill because six months down the road, they won’t have the money. The county is going to own a lot of houses (in Mount Union),” Stott said.

Hudson said Mount Union’s monthly rate for fiscal 2018 (which likely will be determined at the May 10 RUSS board meeting) will decrease. The current rate is $150 per month, largely due to residents not paying their bills.

“The rate is very likely to go down. It will drastically change the dynamics of what they are paying now. It could be half as much,” Hudson said.

There is one major change in the 28E agreement and it concerns the resolution of disputes. Currently, most disputes if not settled quickly, advance to district court.

The agreement between the county and RUSS says that the disputes will be resolved through binding arbitration.

In one other Mount Union-related matter, supervisors passed the second reading or an ordinance rezoning property in and adjacent to the former City of Mount Union. The third reading will be at the supervisors’ meeting today.

 

“We updated the map to reflect the changes discussed at the first reading (which was April 20),” explained Joe Buffington, county director of planning and zoning. “It is now final unless we change something else.”

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