By County Executive Ed Day

Here in Rockland we expect people to do things the right way. Paying your taxes on time, looking out for your family, friends and neighbors, and following the law like everyone else. One of the reasons I am so proud to be your County Executive is because I think the vast majority of people living here in Rockland
do all those things and more. They make Rockland feel like home.

But when someone out there tries to take advantage of one of our residents or doesn’t follow the rules like the rest of us, well, then it is time to take action.

This last week our re-invigorated Office of Consumer Protection, under the leadership of Director Jim Elcik did just that. After receiving numerous complaints about an unlicensed landscaper working in Rockland, they did what Director Elcik had done many times before when he was a U.S. Marshall.

Consumer Protection Inspectors performed a surveillance operation and identified one of the unlicensed landscapers who had been the cause of many of the complaints. An individual, who uses the name Rob Louch (not his real name), was observed cutting the grass at a residence in Pearl River.

Consumer Protection Inspectors intercepted Rob Louch and issued an Appearance Ticket for the Town of Orangetown Justice Court to answer to a charge of Unlicensed Home Improvement, a Class A Misdemeanor. The penalty upon conviction is a fine of not exceeding $1,000.00, or up to one year in prison, or both fine and imprisonment.
With the assistance of the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office, Rob Louch’s tools and equipment were impounded. This action was taken under the updated 2009 Rockland County Consumer Home Improvement Protection Act which I introduced when I was still a member of the County Legislature. The updated Act permits authorities to impound equipment and vehicles of unlicensed contractors,
to create the incentive for contractors to apply for a proper license.

Some may ask why proper licensing is important for a landscaper, it’s “just” mowing a lawn? That answer is simple, what if unexpected damage is caused or an accident takes place. As part of being licensed through Rockland, we ensure that a landscaper or any other type of home improvement contractor has the proper liability and worker’s compensation insurance.

This protects homeowners and property owners in case a contractor or their employee is injured while working on a project. The mission of the Office of Consumer Protection is to protect Rockland County consumers by providing a safe and fair marketplace through oversight, enforcement and licensing of
professionals. It costs $325 to apply for a Home Improvement License and there are approximately 1,834 licensed Home Improvement contractors operating in Rockland. Showing just how many out there are doing the right thing.

The goal here is not to impound anyone’s equipment, fine them or see them put in jail. But this should serve as a warning to any other unlicensed landscapers, we expect you to follow the same rules as everyone else. We’re not looking to impound your equipment but if you continue to flagrantly violate the law, make no mistake about it, we will do so.

I want to encourage everyone to take notice of our Office of Consumer Protection; Director Elcik and his team are working to protect you. If you have a concern or want to make a complaint, call the Office of Consumer Protection at (845)364-3901 or send them an email: [email protected]

There are many resources and programs available to our residents I ask you all to spread the word about Consumer Protection