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Grosse Pointe Park

May 15, 2013

Park officials table sewer warranty program for more study

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

GROSSE POINTE PARK — Sewer line repairs can easily cost thousands of dollars, and homeowners are often surprised to learn that, along with the mess and aggravation, they may also be responsible for footing the bill, depending on which portion of the line is broken.

That’s why the Park is considering offering a warranty program through the National League of Cities that residents would have the option of purchasing to cover up to $4,000 per occurrence. But while City Manager Dale Krajniak said some officials, including City Council members Daniel Grano and James Robson, have raised the possibility of offering such a program to residents, other officials were a bit more apprehensive about the program.

“It’s a voluntary program — nobody has to join,” Grano said during an April 22 City Council meeting. “It’s something I thought we should at least consider.”

He said the program, which began in 2010, has been adopted by a number of communities, including Berkley, Harper Woods and Huntington Woods.

Krajniak said the program would cost about $49 per year for residents who decided to purchase a warranty. The program covers repairs to external water and sewer lines by the NLC’s Service Line Warranty Program. Such repairs typically average around $1,200-$3,500, according to the NLC. If the Park were to offer the program, Krajniak said the city would provide resident addresses to the NLC and endorse the program to residents. Some revenues from residents who enrolled in the program might come back to the city, he said. There would be no cost to the city itself to participate.

According to warranty program literature, “licensed, local plumbers … will call the customer within one hour of filing a claim.” The NLC states that the external water warranty covers repairs to the underground service line from the city’s main line connection to the water meter, as well as “the underground service line between the water meter and the exterior foundation of the home.”

“I’m concerned about the quality of people they’ll be hiring,” City Council member Laurie Arora said. “If we’re putting our name on it, how much control will we have over contractors? I would want it to be very high quality (companies). … And I’m not sure we want to be in the insurance business.”

Grano said the NLC hires local contractors to perform the repairs.

City Council member Daniel Clark agreed with Arora.

“I’m concerned about endorsing,” Clark said. “We’re endorsing a product. I’m not sure we want to do that.”

Clark was also worried about the $4,000 cap per occurrence, noting that when he had a sewer line repair to make at his own house, it cost “much more” than that.

Although he acknowledged that older sewer lines like the ones in the Park tend to be more prone to breaks and leaks, City Council member Robert Denner said he wanted to determine first if there was demand in the city for such a program. He said he felt officials should get input from residents before signing up.

“I’d like to consider this a little bit further,” Denner said.

With too many unanswered questions, the council voted unanimously to table the issue.

Krajniak said the city could also look into creating its own warranty program, in which residents could purchase a warranty directly from the Park that would enable qualified city workers to make the repairs themselves.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran at kmoran@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1047.