Scottsdale warranty program in tune with other Valley city programs
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press
Scottsdale City Council has given its official blessing to allow Water Resources Director Brian K. Biesemeyer to negotiate on behalf of the municipality a contract with HomeServe USA for citywide service line warranty protections.
The service line warranty program if approved, however, is on a volunteer basis, city officials confirm.
“Exterior water and sewer service lines from a homeowner’s residence to the city’s water meter box for water and sewer main/right-of-way for wastewater are the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain and repair,” said Mr. Biesemeyer. “Scottsdale Water requested proposals from companies interested in negotiating a contract with the city to market their service line warranty protection program to city of Scottsdale water and sewer utility residential customers.”
The RFP request is the first of its kind in Scottsdale, Mr. Biesemeyer reports. Initial tenets of the service line warranty contract include a $200,000 upfront payment to the municipality whereas the HomeServe staff will operate the program, records show.
Scottsdale City Council voted unanimously Tuesday, June 7 at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd., to approve Mr. Biesemeyer moving forward with negotiations for service line warranty program.
“Exterior water and sewer service lines from a homeowner’s residence to the city’s water meter box for water and sewer main/right-of-way for wastewater are the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain and repair,” said Mr. Biesemeyer.
“Scottsdale Water requested proposals from companies interested in negotiating a contract with the city to market their service line warranty protection program to City of Scottsdale water and sewer utility residential customers. This is the first time Scottsdale Water has solicited such a request. Through the competitive bidding process, HomeServe USA was identified as a qualified provider.”
Mr. Biesemeyer, who presented this item to City Council during its June 7 public hearing, explains the National League of Cities has provided a framework for this public-private partnership.
“The service line warranty protection program that HomeServe USA offers was conceived in partnership with the National League of Cities to help educate residents of their responsibilities and to help avoid unanticipated out-of-pocket expenses,” he said of the proposal.
The program under consideration at City Hall mirrors a similar program in neighboring Phoenix and the city of Mesa, Mr. Biesemeyer says. “HomeServe USA, also known as Service Line Warranties of America, has been working with the city of Phoenix since 2012 and the city of Mesa since 2013 offering its program to their utility customers and is also endorsed by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.”
Strictly to be a volunteer program
At the June 7 public hearing, Mr. Biesemeyer explained to the local governing board the warranty program is optional and no property owner must participate in the warranty program.
“This is a voluntary program, we are not telling anyone they have to do this,” he explained. “We do get calls from homeowners and, unfortunately, we have informed them that the service line is their responsibility.”
If a Scottsdale service line owner were to opt into the HomeServe USA warranty program, it would cost:
- Exterior water service line – $4.49/month
- Exterior sewer/septic line – $6.49/month
Both plans offer unlimited total annual coverage and an unlimited number of service calls, up to $8,500 per call. Scottsdale Water will receive 10% of the premiums collected by HomeServe USA in addition to the upfront payment.
Where does the $200,000 go? City officials report those dollars will be allocated here:
• Residential Utility Bill Assistance: To aid Scottsdale Water residential customers who are having difficulties paying their monthly water/sewer bills.
• Sewer Service Line Extension: To aid Scottsdale Water residential customers who are required, by city code, to pay for the extension of a sewer line resulting from a failing septic system and related wastewater development fees and having difficulties doing so.
The Scottsdale Human Services Division is developing criteria for eligibility for both programs, according to the City Council report.
Mr. Biesemeyer points out the benefits of the program in the event a service line does fail.
“The service line warranty protection program offers a low-cost opportunity to property owners,” he said. “Additionally, the program will assist the city with customer service by providing a resource directly to customers should they need assistance with the portion of the water or sewer service line that is not serviced by the city.”
It appears, if approved city officials say, the contract terms are to be negotiated on an annual basis a part of the municipal budget process.