Crown Point council considers city licensing for contractors

2012-07-21T20:00:00Z Crown Point council considers city licensing for contractorsLU ANN FRANKLIN Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
July 21, 2012 8:00 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | A proposed ordinance would require all contractors working in the city to pass a test administered by the building department and obtain a license from Crown Point.

The three city councilmen on the Ordinance Committee voted last week to recommend adoption of the more stringent regulations. The recommendation came after a 90-minute discussion and testimony from city officials.

The proposed ordinance will now go to the City Council for a vote Aug. 6.

The licensing also would cover subcontractors working for the general contractor, including those in heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Currently, Crown Point tests and grants licenses for electrical contractors. The state licenses plumbers.

Robert Clemons, R-2nd, said he brought the ordinance to the committee because some general contractors aren’t following the city ordinance and seeking licensing from Lake County to permit them to do work in Crown Point. These unlicensed individuals sometimes comply and seek a county license only when they are caught on the job site by Building Inspector Rich Hulen.

The county license sometimes takes two months to obtain because Lake County only gives the test during the third week of each month and contractors must register a week before that, Hulen said.

That two-month delay in obtaining a county license leads some general contractors “to roll the dice,” said Mark Schweitzer, councilman at large. “By the time he gets a license, the person (hiring him) finds another contractor.”

Bill Feder, councilman at large, said the glitch in the system causes an unacceptable situation.

“People are not licensed and got caught, then they get a license. That’s the wrong aspect to take,” he said.

Hulen also said Lake County “doesn’t want to give the test.”

The Crown Point Building Department is equipped to administer a randomly selected 30-question exam testing the general contractor’s knowledge of his craft, Hulen said. If the City Council approves the new ordinance, the test will be administered every week at the planning and building department.

The fee for the test will be $300. Passing the test is the only way to obtain a license.

The license would be issued by the clerk-treasurer’s office after an additional licensing fee of $100 is paid. Renewing a license will be $50 per year.

The contractor must also be bonded, have insurance and workers' compensation coverage. Citations issued by Hulen or other officials would be considered a violation of the ordinance and result in fines of up to $2,500 a day beginning with the second citation.

Another major part of the new ordinance deals with the creation of a seven-member Board of Contractor Licensing and Registration.

That board would be composed of the director of community development, the building administrator, one city councilman, the chairperson of the Crown Point Plan Commission and three city residents with experience in the building trades who will be appointed by Mayor David Uran.

Among the board’s duties would be to investigate “alleged wrongful actions or acts” by general contractors. The board would have the power to suspend or revoke licensing.

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