Note draws many commentsBoard action deferred until Tuesday morning after regular meeting
The Washington County Board of Supervisors adjourned the public hearing concerning an amendment to the 28E agreement it has with the Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) without taking action on a proposed resolution to approve the amendment.
The main courtroom in the Washington County courthouse was full, Thursday evening, with an audience of about 50 people. They came to comment and to hear comments about whether the county should obtain an $80,000 promissory note to repay RUSS for expenses on the proposed Richmond sewer system.
Board chairman Jim Miksch asked county attorney Larry Brock if the board could defer action on the resolution until a later time if it wanted to defer action so that the supervisors could think about the comments they heard from county residents.
Brock read the Iowa code aloud and said that the board could adjourn the public hearing.
The supervisors will have until 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, to consider the public’s comments before making a decision.
Before the meeting began, Washington County Auditor Dan Widmer asked the people entering the courtroom if they wanted to speak during the public hearing. If they did, he added their names to a list he was compiling.
At the beginning of the meeting, Miksch laid out the ground rules. He said that comments from the public would be limited to three minutes and that Brock would be the timekeeper. Miksch said he wanted no attacks on the current supervisors and their predecessors. He also said there would be no name-calling or profanity allowed.
Miksch then invited Bruce Hudson, executive director of RUSS, to make a presentation.
Hudson’s presentation included the history of RUSS, how Washington County got involved with RUSS and why the Richmond project needs additional funds.
The supervisors heard the opinions of 23 county residents about the Richmond project. Some speakers asked the supervisors to take no action until January 2013, when newly elected supervisors would take office. Some said that possible legislation in the Iowa Legislature next year will make the communitywide system in Richmond unnecessary or deemed too expensive.
Two Richmond residents, Jeanie Schlatter and Melissa Schiek, said they have found raw sewage on their property and they want the problem solved. Kenneth and Bernie Knopik of Richmond are in favor of the proposed system. Chuck Singleman asked the supervisors to move forward on the project and so did Don Schiek.
Randy Berg is opposed to the lagoon. So are Tom and Peggy Duwa, James Graham, Dave Rosen, Fritz Engel, Bonnie and Bill Knutson, Mary Leedy, Sunday Sommers, Don Schantz, Richard Gilmore, Jim Stephens and Les Zickefoose.
Many of those opposed to the project wish the property owners who are contributing to the problem to be responsible for updating or installling new septic systems. Others opposed the use of property taxpayers’ dollars to build a communitywide system, whether the funds come from local government or the federal government.
Before the supervisors voted on the motion to adjourn the public hearing, Supervisor Ron Bennett asked to speak. He said that Brock’s estimate of $30,000 to complete obtaining easements is too low. Bennett said that based on a previous attorney’s cost estimate, the easements would cost $5,000 for each residence, which would push the total up to $200,000.
“I think the people of Richmond have got a raw deal,” Bennett said.
He said that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is willing to work with the people of Richmond.
“Let’s let them do that,” he said.
Following that remark the supervisors voted unanimously to adjourn the hearing.