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Spot checks on builders can enhance county growth

Posted: September 19, 2015 - 11:00pm

As metro Augusta’s perennial leader in new housing starts, Columbia County has plenty of experience regulating its home-construction industry.

But the death of an undocumented Mexican national at a job site in Evans this spring shows those decades of experience are meaningless if county officials aren’t enforcing state and local rules consistently, uniformly and fairly.

County residents are fooling themselves if they think the circumstances that led to this tragedy were unique; the potential exists at literally hundreds of construction sites stretching from Martinez to Appling.

A builder who would employ or subcontract to illegal immigrants is a builder more likely to cut other corners as well, including licensing and insurance requirements, quality of workmanship and – obviously – safety.

That’s why county building officials should be commended for stepping up enforcement on unlicensed contractors, especially as home construction shifts into high gear to accommodate the growth from Fort Gordon’s cybersecurity buildup.

The surprise spot checks instituted this summer already have caught a few contractors operating without the proper licenses and certificates. More surprise inspections are needed, and it would behoove county license and code enforcers to find a way to devote more man hours to the task.

If additional personnel is needed, that dialogue should happen with county leaders.

However, officials owe it to the public to ensure these random inspections are carried out in an even-handed manner, so as to avoid the appearance of non-local – and non-politically connected – builders being singled out for extra scrutiny.

Columbia County’s home-building industry doesn’t need a nanny-state regulatory regime, but it shouldn’t be the Wild West, either.

Growth, when managed correctly and done by the book, is almost always a good thing.

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Comments (2)



Myself and other local builders tried to get the
County to enforce the business licence laws and insurance rules we put in place many years ago. The county administer and all the commissioners except Charles Allen voted to weeken the insurance requirements for construction businesses in the county. Now the County want to crack down after a kid dies working on a residential construction site and a apartment complex burns down and a lady died in that fire.



I think the Columbia County finally checking into what's been known for years, the use of subcontractors using illegals to construct homes in the area. At what point does I.C.E. get involved? I'm pretty sure they have a cease and desist from their higher ups. I know the paltry fines are nothing compared to the tens and possibly hundreds of thousand these contractors receive by using these illegals. Think about it, same or less pay, no matching tax, ss, workmens comp payment, and no insurance, they use Medicaid, and the American Taxpayer pays for the welfare of them and their family. The illegal winds up with four or five times what a legal worker takes home, and then sends most of it back to his extended family in another country so they can come here illegally.
This is totally ridiculous, fine the contractors enough to make it unprofitable to hire the illegals, and turn the contractors in to I.C.E.