County to file for summary judgment
Following a closed session held after the regular Washington County Supervisors meeting Tuesday, the supervisors authorized County Attorney Larry Brock to file a summary judgment motion with regard to the lawsuit against the board by Residents for a Better Richmond (RBR).
Supervisor Bob Yoder cast the sole ‘nay’ vote, with supervisors Jack Seward, Steve Davis, Stan Stoops and Ron Bennett voting in favor of filing the motion. Brock said today that the motion would declare that the facts of the case are not disputed and ask the judge, based on the facts of the case, to rule. Brock believes the judge would rule in favor of the county.
“After it is filed, the other side will have a chance to respond,” Brock said. “It will be determined if any of the facts are in dispute. The judge will then look at the law and if the court agrees with the county’s analysis of the law, the case will be dismissed.”
Brock said that the motion should be filed within 30 days.
The lawsuit, which was filed Nov. 6, 2012, in Iowa District Court in Washington County, seeks to void an amendment to the 28E agreement between Washington County and the Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS). The amendment will cover the cost of additional expenses of a proposed Richmond sewer system. The suit says that on Oct. 23, 2012, the county entered a loan agreement that obligates Washington County to fund the payment of the bonds from the general fund. The suit alleges that according to Iowa code, the county cannot enter into a loan agreement or issue bonds that incur indebtedness to the general fund.
RBR opposes the construction of a lagoon system in Richmond and the county’s membership with RUSS. Members have argued that a lagoon system is not necessary to bring the unincorporated town of Richmond into compliance with state water quality codes.
The suit also cites that part of the project is being constructed in a floodplain, which it claims violates federal law.
The resolution authorized the issuance of the General Obligation Sewer Improvement Loan Agreement Anticipation Project Note in principal not to exceed $273,000. In a legal opinion from Brock, the agreement was found “acceptable” and it was Brock’s recommendation the board sign it. The opinion said that the changes did not significantly alter the underlying purpose and terms of the original agreement.
When the resolution was approved, Bennett had voted against it, saying he was concerned Brock’s estimate of $30,000 for legal fees for eminent domain was too low.
The additional costs include expenses that were not included in the original 28E agreement from the county, including acquiring the lagoon site by condemnation procedures.
The board approved the plan for the Richmond lagoon system after the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) cited the county for water quality violations. Recent tests have shown that the water quality in Richmond remains in violation. The DNR has also indicated that if the county fails to come into compliance, the DNR can fine the county as much as $10,000 per day.