July 15, 2024

The Nerve Archive

Where Government Gets Exposed

Contractor: Local Governments Are Robbing Us

‘It’s getting out of hand lately’

Last week’s story about John Dalen, the guy who refuses to pay for a business license, generated a number of responses like the one below. A large number of people, it would seem, have begun to feel that local governments are robbing contractors and other small businesses by imposing more and higher fees on them.

And they have a point. The point of most licensing laws is really not to ensure the safety of citizens but to generate revenue for government. That, in any case, is what one Upstate contractor seems to think.

The story about the guy who won’t pay his business license is great. There’s even more to the story, however. When you account for multiple contractors, it really adds up! The cities have jumped on the “screw the property owner through the contractors” bandwagon. Typically there will be many contractors on a job and they all get extorted. You can’t get a building permit without a business license and you can’t pass inspections without a permit, so you can’t work without one.

A ground-up job includes the general contractor then the subcontractors, a grading contractor, brick mason, framer, roofer, plumber, electrician, HVAC, flooring and alarm contractors. They bill each contractor a base fee then a percentage on the cost of the job. For example, I did a $90,000 electrical job in Anderson recently. My business license and permit fees totaled about $750, best I recall, each about $375.  Now about to do the same in Easley but I only had to get a business license. Theirs is $40 plus $5 per $1000 of the job cost. My contract this time is $94000.

It really is getting out of hand lately. There wasn’t much of this ten or even five years ago I don’t think, at the levels they charge now.

Eric Reed

Agree with Eric? Have your own complaint or story? Let us hear about it at news@thenerve.org.

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