28E agreements discussed at RUSS meeting last Wednesday
“When are we going to bring that 28E agreement up to date?”
This was the question posed by Greg Kenning of Wapello County at the Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) meeting Wednesday, concerned about the amount of changes and new policies that have been made without a way for counties to leave the RUSS organization.
“When we add things like these little caveats like a 10 percent surcharge (on late payments), those things need to be specified in the 28E agreement, and they are not,” said Kenning.
Kenning’s concern grew from comments made earlier in the meeting from Executive Director Bruce Hudson saying that county dues for fiscal year 2014 would be due by June 30.
“We paid every penny that was requested at arbitration,” stated Kenning.
According to RUSS officials, Wapello County has paid the $14,000 in dues owed from past-due membership fees per the arbitration ruling last December, but the county has not yet paid the $13,650 for the 2014 fiscal year.
“I have sent an e-mail to our attorney saying that we need that funding (FY2014) now before the end of June, so for this current year and any previous years and any outstanding funds from any county will become due on June 30. We need the funding because it was built into our budget and (with the counties not paying) the money is not there,” said Hudson.
While the Dec. 18, 2013 ruling stated that both Mahaska County and Wapello County owe RUSS for past-due membership fees, the ruling does not outline a due date for those payments.
The ruling also states, as was pointed out by Washington County Supervisor Jack Seward Jr., that the one-time 10-percent penalty for delinquent accounts is not legal nor is it enforceable by law.
While discussing the 28E agreement, it was once again pointed out there was no “out clause” for counties to be allowed to leave RUSS.
“I think there should be a way for a county to say that it will still be responsible for the bonds that it signed up for, but it is not going to sign up for any more,” said Seward. “So if you want RUSS to continue and grow and get bigger and get more systems then the counties that still want to do that can, but the ones that don’t want to do that don’t have to do that.”
While allowing a county to leave the organization was an option that several supervisors supported, others were concerned about what would happen to the remaining counties.
“The reality is that if four counties didn’t pay (membership dues), then the remaining counties would have to pick up that expense, and the dues are just operational costs,” said Jefferson County Supervisor Lee Dimmitt. “I don’t have a problem moving forward with projects that don’t obligate various counties, but I don’t think that precludes those same counties from having to pay operational dues.”
Once it was realized the supervisors were not going to agree on a solution, the meeting was adjourned.