Q. Over the past several years, I repeatedly get a letter from Decker Ploehn, City Manager of Bettendorf, asking me to buy water line insurance. The letter comes in a City of Bettendorf envelope and looks very official. Is the City of Bettendorf now selling insurance? The letter refers me to a company called Service Line Warranties of America. Does the city or Mr. Ploehn get some sort of "kick-back" on the policies that are sold? I think this is the fifth such letter I have received. How much has the city spent on postage from these solicitations?

My 93-year-old mother believes she MUST buy this insurance because the city told her and now she has a policy through both Iowa American Water Company and Service Lines Warranty. – Brad, Bettendorf

A. Decker Ploehn, Bettendorf city administrator, said, "The City Council approved a three-year contract with Service Line Warranties to offer this service to residents at no cost to the City. We are in the second year of that contract. This is a completely voluntary program so residents have an additional option to consider if they wish to have this type of service for their sewer line or water line. Residents can choose from several vendors now and have a competitive pricing model that should lower the cost of all of the offerings in the market. The City receives .50 cents per month of the premium that a resident pays and that money is directed to the Sanitary Sewer fund to help offset future costs to residents in sewer bills. I sign the letter on behalf of the city (a requirement of the contract) and do not receive any compensation for doing so, as your reader suggests.

"All costs associated with the program including postage is borne by Service Line Warranties and the City has no expense for this offering.

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"It is my understanding that some homeowners policies for some insurance companies are now offering a similar product in the market place. So residents may have multiple options for this kind of coverage in the future."

Ask the Times published a similar question regarding water and sewer line insurance from a Davenport resident in May. Bettendorf City Administrator Decker Ploehn responded to a similar question in 2016. To read these articles visit qctimes.com/askthetimes

Q. Is it true four sets, or nine of 33 employees at the Scott County Road Department are related? Is this nepotism at the least or cronyism at its worst? -- Never get interviewed

A. Jon R. Burgstrom, P.E., Scott County Engineer, said, "The County has a policy regarding the employment of relatives, specifically prohibiting supervisors hiring and supervising someone considered a 'relative' under the policy. We do not however terminate an employee simply because someone they are related to moves into a supervisory role. We are aware that some employees in the Secondary Roads Department, like other departments, may have a relative in the same department or another department in the county. We do not track those numbers, but instead insure proper supervision occurs."

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Ask the Times appears on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can call 563-333-2632, email ask@qctimes.com or write Ask the Times, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801.