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November 7, 2012

Sewer and waterline plan a success in Eastpointe

Duchane answers questions on warranty program

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

EASTPOINTE — The city sewer and waterline warranty program is off to a popular start in Eastpointe, with more than 2,000 residents participating in the $4-per-month program since it was launched in August. In response to a large volume of questions on the program that followed the Eastsider’s story in the Sept. 19 issue, we sat down with City Manager Steve Duchane for answers to the residents’ most asked questions.

Eastsider: Is it insurance or a warranty? What’s the difference?

Duchane: It’s technically a warranty program. It’s similar to insurance in that you pay a monthly fee, and if something goes wrong, you’re covered. It’s not like insurance in that you don’t have to file papers and there’s not an exclusion document. If there is an issue, the city fixes it, there is no investigation and your rates do not increase.

Eastsider: Does it cover pre-existing conditions? How about residents who were notified by the city of an issue they would have to pay for prior to the program’s start? Can residents who discover an issue themselves join the program and have it covered?

Duchane: You have to participate in the program for six months before we come out and evaluate for anything that is self-reported, but there is only a six-month waiting period, so you can enroll in the program and wait six months and then call us to come out and take a look. If the city finds it and identifies it, then it’s immediate. (…) We are trying to make a bridge program for some of the 2012 people who we’ve already told it’s their bill, where if these people enroll in the program (the city will offer them a loan, and if they) stay in the program for a minimum of three years, the loan is forgiven.

Eastsider: Are residents left with any of the excavation cost?

Duchane: Virtually all repairs we perform will require excavation, so we cover 100 percent of the cost of excavation. Sometimes we have to dig up driveways and sidewalks, but under the program, all of that is covered and any driveways or sidewalks we have to dig up will be returned to their original state after the work is completed.

Eastsider: Can payment be made by direct deposit?
Duchane: If they pay their water and sewer bill using direct deposit, then yes. It gets charged on the water and sewer bill, so it must get paid in the same way they pay that.

Eastsider: Will participants in the program receive a warranty certificate?

Duchane: No, there is no warranty certificate. The fee to participate in the program is on their water bill each month and they have that, but there is no official certificate. They don’t need one. We know they are participating in the program. This is kind of like a little civics lesson for everyone. This is a city program. They don’t get a certification of participation for paying their water bill each month and there is no need for it, like there is no need for a certificate to prove they’re participating in the program. The fact that they are being billed means we have on file their voluntary enrollment form. We do retain that form, and if they are concerned about having a warranty certificate, they can make a copy of that.

Eastsider: Is there a waiting period for rejoining the program after opting out?

Duchane: There’s no waiting period for re-enlistment.

Eastsider: Who’s actually doing the repairs?

Duchane: The city utility workers can, and in some cases might be doing the work, but our (preference) is that we are going to have a utility construction company do this exclusively. What our goal is, is to get as many of these done that are already identified, annually, as possible. We would like to have a private contractor exclusively doing the work. We still have to examine it, certify it and license it, because it’s under our license and operations, but then we’ll just give a list of addresses to the contractor. And, we inspect the work anyway, even if it is a private contractor doing it. We want to get as many done as possible because we have to maintain the integrity of the streets and public right of way.

The city manager’s office can assist residents with any additional information on the city’s water and sewer line program from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at (586) 445-3661.

Thus far, the program’s success in Eastpointe has neighboring Roseville interested. “I received a call from Roseville asking about the program,” Duchane said. “I’ve heard from Roseville residents, too, wanting to know if they can participate in the program. Roseville City Manager Scott Adkins said he was “looking into the program” in response to residents and council expressing interest in it.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.