Bloomington residents would pay about $1 more on their monthly water bills as insurance against leaks, based on a proposal the City Council reviewed on Monday night.
Water users would be allowed to opt out of the program which City Water Department Director Bob Yehl and officials from Tennessee-based ServLine presented.
ServLine presented three options to the council for water leak insurance for residential customers:
- $500 annual limit would cost customers $1.05 per month
- $1,000 in coverage would cost $1.32 monthly
- $2,500 annually would add $1.54 to a resident's monthly bill
The city selects which option and that option would apply to all customers who don’t opt out of the insurance program.
“It’s easier to pay $1, $1.50 than it is to pay a $500 or $1,000 bill,” ServLine sales representative Chris Schulz told the council.
ServLine co-founder Gerry Harstine told the council in the 30 states in which the company sells insurance, only 4 percent of residential customers opt out of the program.
Yehl said about 60 percent of the budget-adjustment requests the Water Department receives for leaks or other damage are for less than $500, 85 percent are less than $1,000 and 95 percent are less than $2,500.
“We spend a lot of time dealing with our citizens on these three topics, and usually at the end of the conversation our citizens are not the happiest,” Yehl said.
ServLine also presented options for residents to purchase coverage against damaged water and sewer lines. That coverage is more expensive and residents would have to opt in to those programs.
Water line insurance would cost residents $4.94 per month and sewer line insurance would run $6.60 per month for coverage of up to $10,000 per incident.
There are no deductibles to meet with any of the programs.
“I’m very optimistic that this type of program could provide a level of protection and peace of mind to our residents that they currently do not have,” Alderman Amelia Buragas said.
Alderman Jamie Mathy asked city staff to present data on the number of incidents in which water customers have experienced sharp spikes in the water bill because of a leak or other damage.
“I feel optimistic about this and the feedback, but I am going to spend a lot of time talking to residents to see what they think too,” Mathy said.
The measure is expected to go back to the city council for a vote once city staff compiles the additional data.
The city council approved a new liquor license qualification to allow customers to drink packaged liquor on site. The measure was in response to a request from Green Top Grocery, which wanted to make the option available to its customers during cooking demonstrations and other special events.
At the city council’s request, City Attorney Jeff Jurgens stipulated the new liquor license only be made available to businesses which sell food as their top revenue source. It also bans gas stations from getting such a license.
The council also approved a final plat and easements for Aldi to build a new grocery store on Maple Hill Drive in west Bloomington, near its current location on Wiley Drive.
The city council unanimously agreed to change the regular twice-monthly meeting time from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. in an effort to reduce the number of special meetings that the council schedules.
The change will take effect with the next regular meeting on Sept. 10.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in Central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.