Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors will save $10,000 after revising its memorandum of understanding with Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS).
The county contracts with RUSS to perform nuisance abatement, and the county had been paying RUSS $50,500 annually for the service. Supervisor Dee Sandquist said she called RUSS Executive Director Bruce Hudson and asked for a lower fee, and he agreed. The county will now pay $40,500 per year.
“It doesn’t hurt to ask,” Sandquist said about her successful phone call. “I just called Bruce and asked him, ‘Can you sharpen your pencil?’”
Sandquist said RUSS can process nuisance claims more efficiently now that it’s had a few years of practice and because some of the long-term problem properties that were once time consuming have been cleaned up. She said this will allow RUSS to fulfill its obligations to the county with less money.
Before the county hired RUSS to perform nuisance abatement, the job fell into the supervisors’ lap, and it was difficult for the supervisors to monitor nuisance properties and enforce rules against the owners. Now that an outside entity has been tasked with documenting nuisances, sending letters to the owners and taking them to court if necessary, the system is working more smoothly.
“We still get plenty of calls [about nuisances], but the system has become more efficient,” Sandquist said.
Supervisor Daryn Hamilton said he attended RUSS’s board meeting Wednesday and learned the group does not wish to continue providing nuisance abatement to the county after the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Hamilton said he is glad that at least a system for processing nuisance complaints and adjudicating them is now in place for another entity to perform next year.