Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 20, 2014

Mount Union files injunction on RUSS

By Tricia Phelps | Jun 21, 2013
Members of the Mount Union City Council met in special session Wednesday night at the Mount Union community center to discuss the legal situation regarding Regional Utility Service Systems recent shut-off notices. Pictured from left are council member Robyn Buffington, city attorney Barbara Edmondson, council member Shawn Bencze and council member/mayor pro tem Ben Johnson.

MOUNT UNION — After receiving potential shut-off notices from Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS), the Mount Union City Council met in special session during which they voted to file an injunction against RUSS and discussed legal strategy with their attorney, Barbara Edmondson.
The injunction was filed in the Henry County Courthouse Thursday, June 20.
The council voted to go into closed session with their attorney, who, after closed session, recommended that the council file for an injunction against RUSS.
“RUSS has passed a resolution and has apparently sent some notices to local residents indicating they will be installing shut-off valves on those who have accounts they claim to be delinquent,” said Edmondson. “The purpose of that injunction would be to prevent that from happening while those lawsuits are pending.
According to a statement made by Mayor John Marek, the notice of termination that was sent by RUSS stated that for accounts that are over 60 days past due, RUSS would begin terminating service if the account is not made current within seven days from the notice’s date.
The notices were dated June 13, which would make June 20 the last day of the seven-day notice time.
“As I have discussed with the council and as we have responded in our court paperwork, it is the city’s position — in fact, it is not just the position, it is the fact – that the agreement that RUSS is trying to enforce against the city of Mount Union was never approved by the council,” continued Edmondson.
Edmondson stated that the minutes of the council meeting from Aug. 6, 2008, showed that the council insisted that they have their legal council review the agreement before signing it, but that the council did not vote to sign the agreement with RUSS.
“As a result, the agreement was never approved, though Ms. Lewiston (RUSS’ then executive director) too a copy back to RUSS that had apparently been signed by the mayor, again, not approved by the council, and that is something the documents in the case so far show,” stated Edmondson. “The critical issue was that while it may have been anticipated at some point that this agreement would be approved, it never was.”
However, according to the minutes of the Aug. 6, 2008, meeting, after a lengthy discussion a motion was made and seconded to sign the agreement with RUSS. Later in the meeting, a motion was made and passed to have the recommendation for the agreement with RUSS reviewed. 
Three council members – Robyn Buffington; Shawn Bencze and Ben Johnson, mayor pro tem – were present at last night’s meeting, as well as Edmondson. Mt. Union Mayor Marek was present via phone.

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