The Ottumwa Courier

February 13, 2013

Van Buren supervisors propose lowering RUSS payment

Applications for family farm credit approved

Courier correspondent

KEOSAUQUA — A Van Buren County supervisor said he has a better understanding of the way Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) operates after a  training session was held recently.

Supervisor Robert Waugh, who is the Van Buren County representative on the RUSS board, said, “It’s not looking as bad as I thought it did a month ago. I have a lot to learn. I think it was a terrible thing the CEO Bruce Hudson had dumped on his lap. Things weren’t handled in the past the way they should have been.”

Supervisor Ted Nixon said, “Information is critical when it comes to RUSS.”

The board had proposed lowering the county support to $3,000 out of its 2014 budget instead of the requested $8,000 to help operate RUSS.

“I think we might want to go back and revisit that,” Waugh said.

Van Buren County currently has one RUSS system in Mt. Sterling.

Ted Nixon said there are 33 hook-ups in Mt. Sterling, at a cost to the owner of $42.09 per month.

Nixon requested information on RUSS, including salaries. Waugh said he has the information and will provide it.

In another matter, and on a 2-1 vote, the board approved 14 new family farm credit applications for 2013-14. The board discussed the matter with county assessor Dixie Saunders and deputy assessor Cheryl Thornburg regarding eligibility. Voting to approve the applications were supervisors Mark Meek and Ted Nixon. Voting against was supervisor Robert Waugh.

Waugh said he had questions regarding eligibility, especially as it concerned one applicant.

The family farm credit is available to all farm operators who own and operate farm land. They must be engaged in the operation.

One applicant stated that he qualifies because he is engaged in farming at least 51 percent of the land in question.

“What qualifies as 51 percent?” Waugh asked.

Saunders stated that as long as it wasn’t leased out, it could qualify.

“It was brought to my attention that it was leased out,” Waugh said. “My understanding is it’s cash rent. I’m not saying he doesn’t qualify. I won’t approve for the simple fact I don’t understand what the 51 pecent actually means.”

The auditor must turn paperwork into the state by April 1 for the applicants to receive the tax credit, which amounts to about $10-$15 per parcel, according to Thornburg.

Ted Nixon stated he would support the application. “I guess we have to believe what he signs and declares,” said Nixon.