Suffolk Legislature Approves Registration That Protects Vulnerable Consumers
Riverhead, NY – The practice of hiring an expeditor to navigate the confusing and difficult government permit process became more transparent and accountable yesterday after the Suffolk County Legislative approved Introductory Resolution 1480-12. The bill, sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning (WF-Shirley), requires that expeditors doing business with the county register with the Department of Consumer Affairs. Historically these individuals were not required to have any expertise, nor was there any oversight over their activities, which left consumers susceptible to corruption and criminal activity. Individuals who already have professional licenses will be exempt from having to register.
After years of complaints, mostly from local business owners, Legislator Browning determined that a registration requirement was needed in order to allow the County to hold expeditors accountable, and to suspend or revoke the registration of expeditors who are guilty of misconduct. The legislation calls for all expeditors to register and pay a $100 fee unless they are a licensed architect or engineer, or if they are an attorney who is admitted to practice law in New York State. The registration certificate is good for two years.
“Government is responsible of ensuring that individuals being hired to navigate the permit process on behalf of county residents and businesses are held accountable, and that the process is transparent,” stated Legislator Kate Browning. “The underground network that existed for years needed to be regulated in order to protect the public, and this legislation finally accomplishes that.”
Registered expeditors will be required to provide the consumer with a schedule of the fees to be charged for the services being provided. There is also a provision in the law permitting the other party to cancel a contract or agreement and receive a full refund of any fee or deposit already paid within three days of it being signed.
The Commissioner of Consumer Affairs shall have the power to deny a registration to a person who has been convicted of a criminal offense related to giving or receiving a bribe, giving or receiving unlawful gratuities, official misconduct or other corruption related acts. The commissioner may also impose a civil fine not to exceed $500 upon a registrant, to suspend or revoke a registration or to deny an application for the renewal of a registration when it is determined that they used fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or bribery in securing a registration certificate or providing expediting services.
Any person who provides expediting services without obtaining a registration certificate, or who shall continue to provide expediting services after having had their registration suspended or revoked shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be subject to a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. Each violation shall be deemed a separate offense.
“This law eliminates the ethical questions of the past and ensures that residents are hiring legitimate expeditors who will provide a needed service for a fair price,” concluded Legislator Browning. “The days of using political connections to solicit permit processing services without any oversight in Suffolk County are over.”