The Manchester Council recently voted to allow a company to use its logo and official header on promotional material for a service warranty company that will be sending out a series of mailers later this year.
Ashley Shiwarski, a representative from HomeServe, said their warranty program is the only one endorsed by the National League of Cities as well as the Iowa League of Cities.
“HomeServe has worked with the National League of Cities to develop a warranty program to assist homeowners with the costs of replacing water and sewer service lines from the home to the main,” city documents state. “The program provides a means by which a homeowner can purchase a warranty that will cover the costs of a service line failure. The program covers the typical kinds of failures a property owner may see, including: a leaking curb stop, a frozen service line, or plugged/collapsed sewer service line.”
Under HomeServe’s program, they will create and utilize a network of local plumbers and other technicians, which will help to ensure maintenance and repair work is completed by those who are familiar will all local codes while also creating a steady stream of work for area companies.
Shiwarski said its aim is to address the public policy issue of the country’s aging infrastructure and, while they know cities like Manchester have been putting forth a good effort to maintain public infrastructure, the homeowner’s portion of these service lines has been forgotten about.
Shiwarski said it’s often the case that when a problem arises from one of these lines, the homeowner’s first call is to city hall. It then falls on staff to be the bearer of bad news, having to explain that these line repairs are not covered by the city and typically aren’t covered via homeowner’s insurance either.
She did make it a point several times to drive home the fact that this program is completely optional and not a subsidiary of the City of Manchester.
In 2015, the council was approached with the same proposal, ultimately declining to let HomeServe use its likeness.
Councilmember Dean Sherman said one of the reasons the council previously declined to endorse the program was that the letter made it appear that it was the city doing the marketing.
“But if we have some flexibility in how that letter is put together, I think we could overcome that,” Sherman said.
Shiwarski said the company has made several changes in the past five years and the city has the right to review and approve the mailers before they are sent out.
“So the city does have complete control if and when a letter were to go out,” Shiwarski said.
City Manager Tim Vick said one of the benefits to the city is that these mailers will get educational information to the public even if they decline to participate.
“It reminds the residents that they are responsible for the services lines, because we still get those questions a lot,” Vick said.
Another discussed benefit of the use of the City’s likeness is that it will let residents know this mailer is not a scam.
Shiwarski said they are currently partnered with over 1,000 municipalities throughout the country, including more than 90 in Iowa.