By Charles Prince
NEWARK – Two of the three Licking County Commissioners, according Commission President Duane Flowers, are poised to approve a controversial contractor registration requirement next Tuesday morning.
The discussion, which apparently began in March, has been under the radar until Flowers read a nearly four-page statement during the Tuesday, November 20, commissioners meeting and then posted it on Facebook.
The one and half page policy requires residential and commercial general, electrical, HVAC, refrigeration, fire protection, and hydronics contractors “to register with Licking County prior to starting any work within the unincorporated areas of Licking County.” Plumbing contractors must be registered with the Licking County Health Department. The registration fee is $100 per year for each type of contractor. Contractors must also carry and provide proof of at least $500,000 general liability insurance, Workers Compensation and Ohio Construction Industry licenses if doing commercial work. All subcontractors doing the work of the listed contractor types also must be registered, even if working for a registered general contractor.
Flowers said Tuesday, “My conscience tells me that a “section” of these administrated rules would violate that oath (to uphold the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions) when it comes to individual rights.” He adds that the new requirement will increase the cost of housing. “Does it increase the cost by eliminating competition? I believe it will increase the cost of all projects at its inception.”
Homeowners have a very limited right to do their own work on their own property without registration. A Homeowner Permit Affidavit is required. The work being done by the homeowner must be listed. Homeowners must agree to each of the following “stipulations” and initial each one.
- I agree to only use this dwelling, and its accessory structures, as a home for myself and my family;
- I agree to obtain all required approvals and inspections for the work being performed on the dwelling;
- I agree to inform the Licking County Building Code Department if I decide to hire a contractor to complete any work that is listed as requiring registration;
- I agree that any contractor hired to complete any work requiring registration must be registered with the Licking County Building Code Department.
- I have read and agree to all the above stipulations and I know there is a fine or imprisonment for violating the resolutions of Licking County.
The affidavit must be signed in front of a notary and includes a second warning at the bottom about the possible fine and imprisonment (up to six months) for falsification of a public document.
The policy also addresses homeowners doing their own work. “A contractor meeting one or more of the definitions of contractor types that is hired to complete any portion of the work must be registered. If the hire is made after the Homeowner Affidavit is submitted, then it is the homeowner’s responsibility to notify our office of the contractor hired, and identify the specific work that contractor is performing. A homeowner may have assistance from other persons not registered, or unreported to our office, provided that no contract, written or verbal, exists between the parties involved.”
Better not offer a case of beer, a BBQ or anything of value to a friend to help you with a construction project on your home. An offer of anything of value, including an offer of providing your labor for one of your friend’s projects, would likely be considered a verbal contract.
Flowers wrote, “Forcing an individual, a private citizen, to get a government exemption and forcing them to sign a document that states failure to conform can be grounds for imprisonment and a monetary fine is a violation of due process and hinders free enterprise as I understand it.” He added that when he attended the first meeting several months ago, “the conversation was, in no way residential properties would be included.”
A report in The Advocate on the Commissioners March 6, 2018, discussion on the registration requirement stated that a Contractor Registration Review committee would be formed. The minutes of the Commissioners’ March 8, meeting also state, “A committee is being formed to review and submit recommendation.”
The Beacon asked the Commissioners’ Clerk/Administrator Beverly Adzic about the committee membership and its recommendations Wednesday. Adzic quickly responded “…to the best of my knowledge there was no formal commission or committee created, but rather a group of interested individuals, who met periodically to further discuss the topic.” She also provided an email list of the individuals “interested most in the topic,” cautioning she didn’t know whether they attended the discussions. The emails listed were:
- Christian Robertson, president of Robertson Construction Services, Inc.
- Sean Weekley of Weekley Electic;
- Frank ? of Southgate Corporation;
- Tom Shaw of Shaw Mechanical;
- Eric Landis of LICO Construction;
- W. Gutridge of Gutridge Plumbing;
- Luke Baus of Project Construction;
- Greg Courson of Courson Home Improvements;
- Buckeye Valley Building Industry Association;
- Troy Warnock, new director of the Licking County Building Code Department; and
- Jack Pryor, recently retired director of the Licking County Building Code Department.
With the exception of Warnock and Pryor, the entire group discussing the new regulations are members of the Buckeye Valley Building Industry Association, an industry trade association. Particularly notable is the absence of any input from township trustees who represent the property owners who will be affected by the new regulations. This writer, who also serves as a township trustee, was totally unaware of these discussions until Flowers sounded the warning on Tuesday.
As he concluded his statement, Flowers said, “I would suggest for the good of the order (that) we re-think what we are doing here. I believe you as a group should go back and have a couple more informational meetings, invite the first group back that was in the first meeting who heard the words this will not affect the residential sector and also try to get others involved such as those agencies and groups working toward affordable housing and providing for the homeless, include the Township Trustees, Municipal leaders if their communities will be affected and invite the true heartbeat of America, the farmers and individuals that these rules would truly affect, hurt and cost.”
Currently, the resolution establishing the contractor registration requirement is expected to be on the Commissioners agenda for approval Tuesday morning, November 27. The agenda for that meeting had not been released as of noon Friday. Commissioners’ meetings start at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor of the Licking County Administration Building.