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Emmitsburg considers partnership with Utility Service Partners

Danielle Ryan

(7/21) During the July 10 Town meeting, Town staff and the Board of Commissioners listened to a presentation about a potential partnership with Utility Service Partners to provide homeowners with infrastructure warranties. Ashley Shiwarski, representing the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program, briefed the Board on the program and the products that could be offered to residents.

The idea behind the program is to help address the public policy issue of aging infrastructure for homeowners specifically. The homeowners’ portion of infrastructure maintenance is often overlooked, as many communities look at maintaining public infrastructure primarily. By utilizing this program, Utility Service Partners would partner with the town to make the program voluntarily available to all residents in Emmitsburg. The program would provide homeowners with an optional protection or warranty on external water lines, external sewer lines and in-home plumbing.

Utility Service Partners would handle all aspects of the program including marketing, billing, and customer service at no cost to the town. In fact, Shiwarski mentioned that the Town would receive a revenue increase of $0.50 per month per household product if they chose to participate in this program. As Shiwarski mentioned, the biggest benefit of this program is to raise awareness, both for town staff and residents.

The program offers three products for homeowners. Those interested in participating would not be obligated to sign up for all three, but can pick and choose which products they want. The product that offers warranty on external sewer lines costs $7.75 per month; the external water line product costs $5.75 per month; and the in-home plumbing product costs $9.99 per month. Residents wouldn’t have to commit for any particular length of time. They could choose to continue with the product on a month-by-month basis if they so chose.

As discussed, anything that impedes the sewer, water or plumbing lines is susceptible for repair. A homeowner would simply need to call one of the toll free numbers provided. Under the warranty, up to $8,500 would be given toward each incident and every repair. There is no annual or lifetime limit on the number of repairs a homeowner may have.

Considering that all lines are something every resident is responsible for in order to help maintain the infrastructure of the Town, this could be a viable option for the Town. Commissioner Sweeney commented "This could really be beneficial for Emmitsburg." "It can help those who may not be able to afford to make certain repairs when the Town cant help." Other Commissioners and Town staff seemed to be in favor of the product as well.

No official actions were taken during the July meeting. The program may be brought up during a future meeting to be voted upon.

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