County Commission candidate Wil Nickerson is a handyman offering a little bit of everything: painting, welding, sprinkler repair.
But the county's consumer affairs investigator found Nickerson's "Helping Hand" is missing something: a contractor's license and an occupational license.
"Unfortunately, businesses like this operate in Pasco County and are a constant problem to deal with," investigator Dennis R. Jones wrote in a letter Friday about Nickerson's business.
The letter was addressed to county Commissioner Ann Hildebrand, who brought Nickerson's work status to the county's attention.
Hildebrand faces Nickerson in the Aug. 26 Republican primary.
Hildebrand said she recently received an anonymous letter with a Nickerson handyman ad in the newsletter for his neighborhood, Forest Hills East. So she turned the information over to the county. "I'm not questioning the quality of his work — probably he does very good work," Hildebrand said.
If Nickerson takes money for work, Jones said, he needs an occupational license, which can be obtained from the tax collector for a nominal fee.
If Nickerson does regulated contracting — electrical, air conditioning repair, plumbing — then he needs a contractor's license. That generally requires passing a test, among other things.
If someone gets caught without the proper license, he could face a warning or fine from code enforcement or police, although Jones said he's received no complaints about Nickerson.
After learning about the required licenses Monday, Nickerson said he will not do the handyman service anymore.
"Campaigning's a full-time job," he said, though he downplayed his work as mostly weeding and washing windows.
"It's not like I've been building houses."
Jones wrote that he "thoroughly checked out" Nickerson's business, though Nickerson noted it would have been nice to get a phone call from the county. Nickerson also said he had not received Jones' letter by Monday.
Nickerson said he generally got paid $20 to $30 a job, mostly from seniors in the neighborhood, but he sometimes goes two or three weeks without doing any work. He used to have an occupational license for a classic car repair business, Nickerson said, but didn't think he needed one for the "odds and ends" he does for neighbors.
Before joining the race, Nickerson helped lead Having Affordable Coverage, a citizens group pressing for better insurance and consumer protections. Nickerson also has criticized government officials for "double dipping" — in which an employee retires, then returns on the job and collects a salary plus a pension.
Hildebrand did just that.
"She probably wasn't too happy that I had a couple editorials (published) about those double-dippers," Nickerson said.
Besides Hildebrand and Nickerson, the District 3 GOP race includes Matt Matey. Democrats Nicholas Planck and Terri Conroy have filed for their party's slot.
David DeCamp can be reached at [email protected] or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232.