WELLSBURG - A local contractor on Tuesday asked the Brooke County Commission to take action against individuals performing building repairs and other work without a license.
Bruce Boettcher said a lot of jobs in local cities and unincorporated areas of the county are being done by individuals who don't have contractor's licenses and may not be paying taxes or building permit fees or covered by bonding or worker compensation.
Boettcher said the situation is unfair to contractors like himself who obey the law.
"No legitimate contractor can compete against them," he said.
Boettcher said such licenses, which also are required of handymen, help to ensure an individual has the knowledge required to do the job and help to protect consumers against fraud.
He said an official with the West Virginia Division of Labor is responsible for ensuring contractors are licensed but is spread thin among four Northern Panhandle counties.
Boettcher said building inspectors for local cities check primarily on whether a building permit has been secured for a project and if that project meets building codes.
He asked if the Brooke County Sheriff's Department or another county official could enforce the license requirement since it is a state law.
County Commissioner Norma Tarr said she understands Boettcher's position but believes some residents are picking up odd jobs as a sideline to cope with financial challenges.
Such individuals may not be able to pass the examination required for a contractor's license, she said.
But Tarr added it's in a resident's best interest to enter into a contract with a licensed contractor because there are some disreputable individuals who will begin a job and having received some payment, leave before the work is done.
County Commissioner Tim Ennis said he will contact the state Division of Labor compliance officer to see how the county can help.
Commission President Marty Bartz noted the commission had considered employing its own building inspector.
In other business, Brooke County Sheriff Richard Ferguson said he will use funds remaining from a $15,000 state grant awarded to address dilapidated structures to remove an old car and other debris from a vacant residence on Lynn Street on Hooverson Heights.
The grant also has been used to dispose of thousands of pounds of material from two unoccupied trailers, one on Riverview Road near Wellsburg and the other on Third Street on Hooverson Heights, and for cleanup efforts at the county's former animal shelter on Allegheny Street.
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