With a mailout from Service Line Warranties prompting concern among Greater Sudburians, the city’s elected officials sought to clarify matters during the Aug. 14 operations committee meeting.
This, after the city issued a media release earlier this month which also strived to explain the nature of their partnership with the company.
At issue is the City of Greater Sudbury’s logo being included in the letterhead of a recent Service Line Warranties mail-out, which members of city council said confused residents. The confusion came despite an accompanying note within the mail-out explaining the city’s involvement.
As city linear infrastructure services Brittany Hallam explained during this week’s meeting, Service Line Warranties offers optional coverage for property owners’ service lines.
The program they offer helps “cover repair costs associated with water and sewer service lines,” the mailout clarifies, noting it is “optional and voluntary for homeowners.”
Although insurance providers cover damages related to things such as sewer backup, they don’t typically cover the repair and replacement of the pipes themselves.
The city is responsible for sewer and water service pipes between the property line and the city’s main service lines, while property owners are responsible for everything within their property line.
“This company is a third-party provider,” Hallam said of Service Line Warranties. “There is no provider of this service within the boundaries of Greater Sudbury.”
Including the city’s logo in the mail-out is a sign of their endorsement, Hallam said, adding that it “encourages people to actually read the letter and helps people to understand that they are a reputable company offering a good service.”
Further, Service Line Warranties does not offer their services to property owners within municipalities that don’t pledge their support, and there are approximately 70 Ontario municipalities with similar such arrangements.
The city’s elected officials approved the partnership during an operations committee meeting on Dec. 6, 2021, and ratified their decision during the subsequent city council meeting.
During the December 2021 meeting, it was established that the city would have been entitled to receive a royalty through their then-proposed partnership with Service Line Warranties, but opted instead to pass on the savings to homeowners.
Monday’s meeting saw repeated outbursts from Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini, who disparaged Service Line Warranties and accused chair and Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti of “not telling the truth.”
It’s unclear from the context of the Aug. 14 meeting what Vagnini meant. Sudbury.com reached out to Vagnini for comment, but he did not respond. It has been several months since Vagnini has returned an inquiry from Sudbury.com.
In response to Vagnini questioning the merits of Service Line Warranties, city growth and infrastructure general manager Tony Cecutti noted it has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
“I certainly want to support and endorse that this is a legitimate program from a legitimate business company,” Cecutti said.
“Go ahead, mute me again, I don’t care,” Vagnini told Signoretti at the close of the discussion, after being repeatedly warned for speaking over the chair.
Vagnini’s latest outburst came a month after Mayor Paul Lefebvre kicked him out of a city council meeting last month on similar grounds, at which time Vagnini could be heard yelling, “You’re blind,” to his colleagues.
Despite claiming to have spent “so much time” researching the topic, Vagnini asked questions during Monday’s meeting, which were already answered in the initial letter sent out to residents, as well as in a Dec. 6, 2021, report for the operations committee meeting of city council, when members approved the partnership with Service Line Warranties.
Vagnini attended at least part of the Dec. 6, 2021, virtual meeting, according to its minutes. The committee’s decision was ratified by city council as a whole on Dec. 14, 2021, a virtual meeting which Vagnini also attended.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.