The Wentzville Board of Aldermen last week delivered a message to residents: "You own your sewer lateral."
The board on Wednesday voted 4-2 to reject a proposed contract with Utility Service Partners Inc., a Pennsylvania-based independent provider of service line warranties. The company administers the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program, an insurance plan to help homeowners repair broken sewer and water lines.
The contract would have given the company a one-year, exclusive contract to provide insurance to Wentzville residents. Under the agreement, the city would have endorsed the warranty program, linking to it on the city website and allowing the company to use the city logo on marketing materials. The program would have used local plumbers.
Scott Smith, Wentzville public works director, said sewer lateral repairs can cost $3,000-$4,000. Many homeowners do not realize they own the lateral and are responsible for paying for repairs, he said.
Mayor Paul Lambi called the plan "a good idea." But most of the aldermen did not see it that way. Aldermen Nick Guccione and Rick Stokes, both of Ward 3, cast the only votes supporting the plan. Aldermen Cheryl Kross and Leon Tow of Ward 1 and Chris Gard and Vann Sample of Ward 2 voted against it.
Sample said he did not understand why the city should sign a contract with a private company in order to "allow" residents to buy insurance for utility lines on their private property. He said the proposal was not a tax-supported sewer lateral repair program like the one Lake Saint Louis is considering putting before voters next April.
Stokes said the city should decide whether it wanted a sewer lateral program. If it did, the warranty proposal offered an opportunity to outsource it to another company rather than using tax dollars. If the city did not want a program, it should find ways to communicate to residents that the laterals are their responsibility, he said.