The Ottumwa Courier

November 15, 2012

RUSS woes continue for county

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Joining an organization is easy, but leaving one can be tough.

Just ask the Wapello County Board of Supervisors.

During this week’s meeting, the board agreed to craft a letter to Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS). The supervisors no longer want to belong to the organization, but RUSS claims the county cannot leave.

RUSS is a 28E organization created in 1999 to provide smaller incorporated and unincorporated communities with sewer systems.

So far RUSS hasn’t sold any systems in the Wapello County area. Supervisor Steve Siegel said other counties have been let out of the agreement and the Wapello County board is wondering why they can’t do the same.

“We’re going to respond with a letter proposing negotiations,” Siegel said, noting other counties left RUSS without passing resolutions.

During this week’s meeting, Supervisor Jerry Parker said if Wapello County can’t leave, the supervisors “may have to vote no to everything that follows.”

Siegel said Wapello County has never had a sewer system through RUSS. The board investigated the potential, but it did not proceed.

“People weren’t interested, and we couldn’t continue the $1,000 membership that increased to $6,000 and later $8,000 annually,” he said. “We can’t justify using Wapello County dollars on something we don’t use.”

About three years ago Davis County asked to leave and did so, according to Siegel.

“We asked to leave but haven’t been allowed,” he said. “We haven’t paid the dues and now we owe RUSS $15,000.”

Parker said if Wapello County isn’t allowed to leave then he’ll vote no to everything that follows.

Siegel said the board is going to respond with a letter proposing negotiations. When there’s a disagreement, the organization’s bylaws call for arbitration.