City considers licensing expediters

Expediters, the people who navigate the city bureaucracy to speed up permit approvals for builders, may soon have to cough up money for licenses and insurance under legislation being considered by the City Council.

The buildings committee today deferred a vote on a proposed licensing ordinance in order to address concerns raised by aldermen. They fear the new requirements may make an unwieldy process even more cumbersome.

Under the ordinance, expediting companies would be required to pay a $600 fee every two years and carry $300,000 in liability insurance. Employees of expediting companies and individuals who work for themselves as expediters would be required to purchase a license for $300 and buy insurance as well.

Carriers of the $300 license would also have to get fingerprinted and carry proof of licensure and a photo ID.

The legislation is a response to the recent city bribery scandal, in which 15 people, including seven city employees, were charged with giving or accepting bribes to falsify inspection reports and obtain approval for building permits.

Those exempt from the licensing requirements include attorneys and other professionals.

Some aldermen, however, think the definition of expediter is too broad.

They're concerned that an architect or builder who asks an employee or a delivery company to run downtown have a document signed might run afoul of the law.

The committee will meet again to consider a revised ordinance before the July 30 City Council meeting.