How to Verify a Professional's License in Athens-Clarke?
When planning a project in Athens-Clarke County, it is essential that you verify the license of any professional you are hiring. Generally, hiring a licensed professional increases your chances of receiving good service delivery as they are typically required to comply with various occupational requirements to ensure the safety and satisfaction of residents. Professionals in Athens-Clarke are licensed and regulated at the state level by 42 licensing boards, and each licensing board oversees specific occupational categories. For example, the Georgia Board of Electrical Contractors licenses electrical contractors, while the Georgia Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors licenses residential and general contractors. Although these licensing boards operate independently, they are administratively supported by the Professional Licensing Board Division (PLBD) of Georgia's Secretary of State's Office. To this end, the PLBD maintains a professional licensee search portal that residents can utilize to verify a professional's license. Alternatively, you can contact the PLBD at (404) 424-9966 and make inquiries regarding your intended professional's licensing status.
Besides verifying a professional's license, you should also ensure that the professional has satisfied local occupational requirements relevant to your project. For example, construction contractors in Athens-Clarke must obtain a building permit before handling most construction-related activities within city limits. Building permits are typically issued by the city's Building Permits and Inspections Division, and the Division receives permit-related inquiries at (706) 613-3520.
Athens-Clarke is a consolidated city-county resulting from the unification of the City of Athens with Clarke County. As a result of this consolidation, Athens-Clarke County was reorganized into ten districts to ensure the representation of every neighborhood in county government deliberations. The county is governed by a Mayor and a Commission, which comprises ten members representing each district. Residents can explore the Commission webpage to check each district's commissioner and each district's map. Although the Commission works with the Mayor to oversee the running of Athens-Clarke County, it does not issue construction or home improvement permits. However, the Commission may exercise its regulatory powers over construction, home improvement, or building-related matters within the county. For example, the Mayor and Commission recently adopted a master plan and a project plan to increase affordable housing in North Downtown Athens. These plans are to be executed with funds from public-private partnerships and may include the redevelopment of existing structures. Also, in March 2021, the Commission voted to rezone an area in East Athens to allow construction of housing units. Although residents have expressed displeasure over this rezoning, the Commission is yet to reverse its decision, stating that the construction will increase affordable housing availability in the county, which is currently a top priority.
The government of Athens-Clarke County does not maintain a local mechanism for residents to file unfair business complaints. However, residents can file such complaints with the Georgia Consumer Protection Division by appropriately filling an online complaint form. Residents can also contact the Division at (404) 651-8600 for general assistance, inquiries, or filing alternatives. For unfair business practices involving criminal conduct, such as fraud, you may contact the Athens-Clarke Police Department at (706) 613-3345 to file a criminal complaint.
Upon receiving your complaint, the Consumer Protection Division will review it and may refer it to another agency or regulatory board for further review or investigation. After a thorough review, the Division may get back to you on the steps taken to address your complaint. However, note that any steps taken by the Division, such as instituting legal proceedings, are done in the public's interest and not to ensure your reimbursement. If you desire reimbursement for inconveniences caused by the practices of the business that you reported, you can file a small claims case against this business. Such claims are usually filed at the Athens-Clarke Magistrate Court, which handles civil cases not exceeding $15,000. It is best to consult a qualified attorney for advice and a legal assessment of your case before filing any claims.