As a bankrupt city dissolves, street lights are turned off and services are shut down.
After months of often heated discussions, the 98-member community of Mount Union is no longer a city.
A State board's action Wednesday will result in the town's 32 street lights being turned off and an end to garbage service, The Hawk Eye reported.
Residents will still be on the hook for sewer bills blamed for the dispute ultimately resulting in the city's disincorporation.
"I know we can't stop this, we tried," former City Clerk Linda Johnson said before the vote. "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."
Mount Union installed a $1.2 million sewer system about 10 years ago due to water contamination. Much of the system was funded by a grant from the U.S Department of Agriculture..
The city was left with about $274,000 of debt owed to Regional Utility Service Systems, which the city was supposed to finance through sewer fees. Several residents failed to pay their bills, causing shut-offs throughout the city.
Other communities that contracted with RUSS established agreements to pay for delinquent users and make up the money by assessing those users' property taxes, but Mount Union never created such an agreement. In response, RUSS began raising sewer rates from $35 per month to about $150 per month so it could repay the USDA.
Much of Mount Union's debt comes from about $30,000 in court-ordered judgments and legal fees to RUSS.
The city's assets will be turned to the state. Municipal funds will be transferred to one bank account and submitted to the state's city development board.
"The decision's done," Mayor John Marek said after the meeting. "It's over time, so we just need the time to relax."
Sometimes it's beneficial to have your own septic, your own well, your own power generation, and living without debt as a community is a good idea. The housing collapse taught us that. Many communities throughout the nation have been through these kinds of ordeals now 20-40 years since interstates came across the country and diverted traffic around bustling towns. The movie Cars highlighted how this can happen, and it has happened throughout the U.S. When commerce lessens, we must become more self sufficient once again, or the community dies and people move to where there are jobs and better internet connections.