A Broke U.S. City Just Dissolved; Street Lights Turned Off; Garbage Pickup Ceases

A city government in Iowa has vanished completely because of unpaid sewer bills. For citizens, that means all government services provided by the city of Mount Union abruptly stopped.

Street lights were turned off permanently, garbage service ended and all city employees laid off in Mount Union, the Associated Press reported. It also means the city council is dissolved and there is no mayor in the town of 98 people.

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“I know we can’t stop this, we tried,” former city clerk Linda Johnson said. “And the only good thing is the (city) council and all the administration will be gone, and we can start to heal our wounds. It wouldn’t be this way if it hadn’t have been for them.”

The cause of Mount Union’s demise was unpaid sewer bills. A decade ago, the city put in a $1.2 million sewer system maintained by an agency called Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS).

The system was supposed to be paid for by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and a loan. The loan was supposed to be paid by sewer bills, but a number of residents in town did not pay their sewer bills.

Initially, that led to rates jumping from $35 a month to $150 a month. Citizens voted last year, by a margin of 32-31, to dissolve the town. In March of this year, a state board approved the proposal to dissolve the town.

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