City Council members may consider requiring all contractors working in the city of Arnold to have a mechanical engineers license issued by St. Louis County.
St. Louis County has the highest standards for earning a license, said St. Louis County contractor Robert Hoffman during an Arnold Council Planning Session, at 2101 Jeffco Blvd., on May 12. The higher requirements eliminate unskilled workers and their errors.
“But it’s a political football,” Hoffman said Contractors can regard the licensing standard as a way to eliminate their livelihood.
Engineers worry about cities mandating their own licenses. There would be about 175 different licenses between the various counties and cities, Hoffman said. “And it would be hard to keep up with all of them.”
Hoffman said he would prefer the county or the state issue the licenses. “That way, there would only be one license fee and set of requirements," he said.
If Arnold wants its own requirements, Hoffman said the city should require a St. Louis County license. “Because that is what 95 percent of contractors have.”
Hoffman said St. Louis County has the highest licensing standards, compared to surrounding counties in Missouri and Illinois.
Hoffman said he helped develop the St. Louis County’s mechanical licensing requirements.
Hoffman said Arnold should not create its own mechanical license requirement.
Hoffman said the St. Louis County requirement would eliminate the city’s need to hire staff to administer and enforce licenses.
Arnold's current ordinance requires one person working for a company or on a project to have a mechanical certification, Ward 4 Councilman Ken Moss said during the planning session.
The licensed contractor would check all work on the site.
“The problem is that someone (without a license) working at a site may not have the experience or skills to recognize a serious problem,” Moss said. The licensed engineer may not check all work in a timely manner, he said.
It takes about 7,500 hours of trade experience and ongoing education to earn a mechanical license, Moss said.
Tom Leonard, a member of Sheet Metal Workers Union and a Jefferson County resident, said a Franklin County family died of carbon monoxide in November due to a contractor’s lack of mechanical experience.
The serviceman working on the family’s furnace did not realize a rusted exhaust pipe near the flue drew carbon monoxide into the home, Leonard said.
“They made it two nights before they passed away,” Leonard said about the couple and their two infants.
Leonard said he called the Rock Community Fire District and learned they responded to 23 carbon monoxide incidents this year.
“I just feel that people should be responsible for their work,” Leonard said. “It’s not a union or non-union issue.”
Service workers usually fix a problem then leave, but there is no way to verify they have the knowledge to identify all problems, Leonard said.
The license would make sure contractors in Arnold are qualified, he said.
Community Development Director Mary Holden said her department would need more staff to enforce the higher requirements.
“We would need to license the apprentice and journeymen,” Holden said about contractors working within Arnold city limits.
The City of Arnold lacks the staff to enforce the proposed requirement, Holden said.
City Administrator Matt Unrein said the proposed requirement would generate a lot of money for St. Louis County.
Clarification: This article has been rewritten to introduce St. Louis County's higher licensing standard earlier in the article to the readers.