Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1104353

Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 29, 2014

RUSS passes costs to users

By Trisha Phelps | Jan 20, 2014

MT PLEASANT — The Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) was notified on Jan. 9 that the organization would not be receiving the $50,000 Utility Management Organization (UMO) grant this year from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
At its emergency meeting yesterday, the board of directors voted 5-3 to pass that extra cost along to the individual users of the systems instead of adding an additional $5,000 to the annual county dues of all 10 counties to make up the difference.
RUSS Executive Director Bruce Hudson was informed on Jan. 9 by e-mail that the DNR had decided to no longer continue with contracted services to assisted under- and unsewered communities.
RUSS’ current UMO contracted grant will end on June 30, 2014, and the organization has received the UMO grant since 2008.
“There are requirements in the grant, like a certain amount of education and stuff like that, and don’t get me wrong, we aren’t going to walk away from the education, but what I am saying is that we are going to continue to do the work, but now they are going to get it for free and no longer partner with us,” said Hudson, explaining his take on the current situation.
“The way I see it, whether it is the government, the USDA, I don’t really care who it is, they all want something from us,” said Lee Dimmit, supervisor from Jefferson County. “They are the ones that establish all of the criteria — all of these hoops that we have to jump through – and then they don’t want to participate anymore. I think we have reached a point where if you just go on with this and don’t do anything about it, I don’t see my county picking up the tab.”
Currently, county dues are $8,650 per year. If RUSS had decided to have the counties make up the difference from the UMO grant, county dues would then be $13,650.
Hudson encouraged the supervisors to talk with their state representatives about the problem and see if there was a way the representatives could help rectify the situation.
Dimmitt, Chris Ball of Louisa County, Steve Siegel of Wapello County, Bob Waugh of Van Buren County and Jack Seward Jr. of Washington County all voted in favor of having the individual users pick up the extra costs if state representatives were not able to find a solution.
Greg Moeller of Henry County, Jim Cary of Des Moines County and Deke Wood of Keokuk County voted against the motion.
Also during the special meeting, RUSS Finance Manager Kathy Dye’s resignation was accepted.
Dye has worked for RUSS for two-and-one-half years and agreed to continue working for RUSS part-time until a replacement could be found and properly trained.

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