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Commissioners leaning toward local licensing

February 08, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

Approving local licensing of home builders could cost the county more than $110,000 in the first year, Permits and Inspections Director Paul Prodonovich told the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday.

Despite that cost, the consensus of the County Commissioners was to move ahead with local licensing, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said.

No formal vote was taken because the first draft of the ordinance has not been prepared.

The board is tentatively scheduled to vote on the issue on Feb. 22, Snook said.

Prodonovich estimated it would cost $70,000 to hire a permit technician and inspector to oversee local licensing.

Other initial costs would be $32,000 for vehicles and fuel and $7,400 for related expenses such as computers and phones, Prodonovich said.

The annual costs will be about $75,000, he said.

He called the estimates a "worst case scenario." How involved, and how costly local licensing would be to the county depends on how the law is written, he said.

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The Maryland General Assembly gave the County Commissioners authority last year to license home builders locally. That came at the request of the Home Builders Association and the County Commissioners.

The County Commissioners decided last month to delay action on local regulations until they saw the outcome of a statewide bill that would license home builders statewide. That decision upset the association, which asked the County Commissioners to reconsider.

After meeting with association members during last week's County Commissioners meeting, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook promised an answer within two weeks.

The association favors a local law over a statewide law because consumers would get better and faster enforcement, Association Executive Director Debi Turpin said.

Problems consumers have with a builder should be addressed in the county where it occurs, Turpin said.

The Home Builders Association first asked for local licensing in 1994, Turpin said.

That group of commissioners decided against pursuing a law, but the current group agreed in 1998. The law was passed in 1999.

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