Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 30, 2014

RUSS to install shut off valves in Mt. Union

By Trisha Phelps | May 10, 2013

Mt. PLEASANT — The Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) Board of Directors has decided to look into what it would take to install shut-off valves on the systems in Mt. Union that are not paying their bill.
At the RUSS board meeting on Wednesday, after much discussion, a motion was made to allow Bruce Hudson, RUSS executive director; Greg Moeller, Henry County supervisor; and Lee Dimmitt, Jefferson County supervisor to look into what it would take to begin the process of notification to users of Mt. Union to install shut-off valves for those users who are past due on their account.
Of the 62 users in Mt. Union, 45 are paying. Currently, there are 17 users in Mt. Union not paying their share of the system, which brings the debt to $23,323.79 as of May 7.
“Those 17 people, including their city council, are laughing all the way because they haven’t invested anything into this system,” said Lee County Supervisor Ernie Schiller. “We are the ones trying to manage this system that they wanted us to install and manage it. Most of the billings are left up to us or the people actually paying. I think that we should send out a notice. Let a lawyer take over. That’s what I’d do, Bruce.
“The goal of this group is to go out into the 10 counties and work with Bruce, like in this community, because we were asked to improve their livelihood,” Schiller continued. “ We were asked, and we did our part. They fail on every issue. What is wrong with the city council if they are not addressing it? What is wrong with the people in this community for not being up in arms about this and saying ‘I ‘m paying my bill, d*****. Why aren’t you paying yours? And why is this even an issue?’ “
“You don’t have any leverage, other than putting a lockbox on the system. The only other leverage you’ve got is individual shut-offs,” said Dimmitt.
“It’s probably only going to take one shut-off,” stated Daryl Wood, Keokuk County supervisor.
Schiller brought the idea to the table of having Hudson gather information on what options the board has at this point.
“You could entertain a motion to let our executive director bring to the June meeting something along the lines of what you want, some type of closure,” Schiller said. “And then if the whatever passed, he would have the authority to talk with Henry County.”
Members of the board expressed concern that they don’t want to have negative consequences for the people who are paying, and that the majority of Mt. Union is paying.
“We have 50 folks that are doing exactly what they are supposed to do, but we do need to address everyone in the community,” said Dimmitt. “We should send a notification that we would begin installing shut-offs, and then we will shut off systems for non-payment. Then the person that is paying wouldn’t have to worry about it because they are paying. We will have notified them though, so we are treating everybody the same.”
“If you are paying your bill, don’t worry about it. Throw it away,” said Wood.
“I need to do some research first,” said Hudson. “I know we have the authority, because we own the system. It’s just whether or not we are creating a public health hazard. As long as you give proper notification before you shut off, then they are the ones creating the problem.”

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