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RUSS Trying to Keep Members


An organization that helps rural southeast Iowa communities build sewer systems is trying to maintain its current membership.

A three-judge panel in Des Moines recently heard requests from Mahaska and Wapello Counties to leave RUSS (Regional Utility Service Systems).

The Mount Pleasant-based organization currently has ten members, two of which being Lee and Des Moines Counties.

It operates about a dozen sewer systems throughout the region.

RUSS Vice Chairman Ernie Schiller says Mahaska and Wapello want out because they no longer want to pay for a service they don’t think they will ever use.

He says their departures would hurt the eight remaining counties, including his own.

"Lee County stands that we would probably have to pony up more money to keep all of the systems managed as they should be," says Schiller.

Lee County originally paid $1,000/year to be a member of RUSS.  This year, the cost was $8,000.

Schiller says a ruling from the arbitration hearing is expected within the next month.

There has been one departure from RUSS since it was formed nearly 15 years ago.

Schiller says Davis County was a member of RUSS and a similar organization.  He says due to a conflict with a potential grant, it was allowed to leave RUSS.

Schiller says that required a special vote of the organization's Board of Directors because there is no specific escape clause in the document that governs RUSS.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.