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Archive for Friday, March 25, 1994

BOARD TO CONSIDER CONTRACTOR GUIDELINES

March 25, 1994

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A licensing proposal for mechanical contractors goes before the Lawrence Mechanical Board on Tuesday night.

A draft proposal for licensing mechanical instructors in Lawrence will get public hearing Tuesday night.

The meeting could be the last step before the proposed licensing system is forwarded by the Lawrence Mechanical Board to the Lawrence City Commission for final approval.

Licenses would be required for all contractors who install heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems in the city, much as electricians and plumbers are required to carry city licenses.

Currently no standards are in place for mechanical contractors, said Ralph Pimentel, the city's mechanical inspector. And in a city with as much residential, commercial and industrial growth as Lawrence, the more safeguards the better.

The licenses -- ranging in initial cost from $4 for apprentices to $200 for contractors -- would ensure basic training, experience and insurance requirements for people doing installation work, he said.

"Basically, it's a watchdog for the consumer," Pimentel said.

Mike Miller, board chair and Kansas University's assistant director of facilities operations for mechanical systems, said the industry generally welcomed the licenses, which are included in the 1988 Uniform Mechanical Code.

The main opponents, he said, appear to be owners of apartment complexes, who believe the licenses could hamper regular maintenance efforts and drive up service costs, and therefore force increased rents.

Pimentel said the fears were unfounded. The licenses would be required only on installation work -- not for routine filter changes, refrigerator recharges or fan belt replacements -- and permit costs would pale in comparison to a company's annual revenues.

"To a contractor who's doing a million dollars' work a year, fifty dollars isn't an amount that would be felt by the consumer,"

The board has worked on its recommendations for 18 months, Pimentel said.

The board's meeting begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the meeting room at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. The board also will seek nominations for three soon-to-be-open spots on the advisory body.

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