Licensing Ripoff!!!

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Pelican, Jul 23, 2002.

  1. Pelican

    Pelican LawnSite Member
    Messages: 164

    :angry: :angry: :angry:

    I had responded a few weeks ago to a thread concerning licensing and gave my view that licensing is just a money grab by the government. I was dished a bit of reality yesterday that's a bit hard to stomach.

    I started a job yesterday in a neighboring county where I hadn't done work before. I wasn't there for 2 hours before a truck with a County Seal on the door pulled up. A guy gets out and flashes me an inspector's badge, he's from consumer affairs.

    He wants to see my County contractor's license. My response was "Huh?" We don't have any licensing requirements where I live and operate. He wasn't amused and stated County law requires me to have a contractor's license to work within the county.

    He went on to say that I could continue to work and this could all be cleared up by applying for the license. I asked what qualifications I would have to meet, he answered proof of insurance and a checkbook, to the tune of $250.

    There is no test of competency, or job inspections to prove quality of work, they just want my money. I explained this was a small job, I would be done in a few days and that I didn't have that money in the job, but he wasn't interested.

    I was also issued a summons and warned that non-compliance could result in a $5000 fine and a year behind bars.

    What drove me even more nuts was that 3 gypsy lawn mowers drove by us while we were talking and they didn't concern him at all. It seems they only target legitimate businesses that allready follow the rules, not the ones who are uninsured and pay no taxes.

    Is not something wrong here???

    :angry: :angry: :angry:
  2. ipm

    ipm LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 264

    What were you building??
  3. John from OH

    John from OH LawnSite Member
    Messages: 144

    Pelican, as frustrating as it maybe, you have to play their game. We use a checklist with every proposal and bid we submit. On this checklist, one of the items is bonds, licenses, and permits required. A simple call to the appropriate government office will give all of this information for any location. If it is an area that we haven't worked, we know up front the requirements and costs so that we can recoup those cost by adding them to the job. We then keep a list of the requirements for the areas we have worked in for future reference. We check yearly as requirements can and do change. Your proposals also look much more professional when you can show that you have all of your licenses and bonds in place and that you handle permits for the client. A few minutes of preparation can save you alot of grief.
  4. Pelican

    Pelican LawnSite Member
    Messages: 164

    I'm replacing an existing walkway & stoop with Unilock

    John, I've been a very small landscape contractor and have worked only locally to this point. It sounds as if you've been down this road before and have it pretty much under control. I've been expanding of late, I guess these are some of the growing pains you go through.

    I'm a staunch conservative and vehemently opposed to government bureaucracy, I guess I'm just venting. They've tried to disguise a tax on business as a saving grace to the consumer, I see through it.

    Your program sounds like a good one, I'll keep it in mind the next time I travel to unkmnown territory. Thanks
  5. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    Pelican - I feel for you. I too am bothered by various government entities wanting their piece of the pie.

    Though I do recongize the importance of liscensing if properly admininstered. I do not mind if a city wants to see proof of general libility insurance and workers' comp. In fact - I'd like it if more cities would do this - and then enforce it! This would help to discourage the scrub operator. Sure it adds cost, cut I understand cities get burned by unscroupulus contractors who do shoddy work, leave a mess in the street and burn their residients. Contractors have bad raps for a reason.

    I do not like additional taxes disguised as liscensing to protect residents - particularly when they aren't protecting the residents. For snow plowing, most cities want $10.00 a truck, proof of insurance and current vehicle registration. Usually the permits are obtained through the building department. I rarely see enforcement though - which is too bad. One city we operate in wants $25.00 per truck and the name and social security number of each truck driver. No proof of insurance or workers's comp required. They just want to make sure they're getting their payroll tax dollars. Their permits are obtained through the police department - no fun to deal with and they're 2.5 times the "going" rate. The same city wants a $100 liscense to operate in the city - even if we just provide maintenance.

    Yes - it's a game we have to play. I've been lobbying - if you will, for them to check workers' comp and insurance. Bonding is a pain and costs more - but at least it's not paid to the cities.
  6. Just Turned Pro

    Just Turned Pro LawnSite Member
    Messages: 109

    Ahhh the red tape! I feel for you. Here it is ridiculous as well.....and I swear and cuss about it all the time but I do comply!

    To mow lawns you need a generic business license.
    To sell plant matter you need a nursery license.
    To install the plant matter you need to be a registered contractor which means you need proof of insurance and a bond.
    To spray pest/herbacides you need an additional license.
    PLUS you have to check any incorporated cities that want to work in for their specific licenses......

    Ahhh...the government, you gotta love em'
  7. Pelican

    Pelican LawnSite Member
    Messages: 164

    Well, I jumped through all their hoops, spent over $600 doing so and applied for their license(?). Yesterday, my friendly inspector left me a message that I had been approved, but there was one more detail: I have to pay a civil fine of $100 for being an unlicensed contractor. The whole point of me applying for the license was to avoid the fine, at the inspectors direction! I'm fighting this one, will keep you posted. Both the inspector and his underling told me I could avoid a fine by applying.

    My take is that this is akin to double jeapordy. Plus, they instructed me to continue working as an unlicensed contractor; to complete the job I was on. If I were in violation, why would they permit me to continue to do so? I'm planning to demand a hearing.:mad:
  8. sgtgm5

    sgtgm5 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 81

    I can't believe he issued you a ticket. I would fight that one all the way up to the governors door.
  9. Pelican

    Pelican LawnSite Member
    Messages: 164

    There's the kicker! I've yet to receive any citation or formal notice regarding this fine! Just the forementioned voice mail and today a letter on his letterhead stating the fine has yet to be resolved. I'm sending him a letter of my own, after my attorney reviews it.

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