PANAMA CITY BEACH, FL- A new state law is adding to the bill for air conditioner repairs. It's stirring debate among contractors.
The debate centers around a $29 dollar permit to replace an existing air conditioning unit. Panama City Beach and Bay County officials issue the permits but say their hands are tied by state law. One air conditioning contractor says the process could cause problems for his business.
In March a new building code went into effect that changed the requirements for replacing air conditioning units.
Panama City Beach building department official Ken Thorndyke said, "Complete replacements on air conditioning units have to be sized for the house that they're going into. Along with that was another requirement that the ducts had to be inspected by the contractor and sealed if they weren't. In the energy code it doesn't say you can, or you might, or you should look at them. It says mandatory."
Quincy's Heating and Air Conditioning owner, Keith Carnley, says it will cause problems. "You've got to spend an extra 300, 400, 500 dollars whatever it takes, to have this duct work sealed. My concern is that they're going to get in the phone book and find 50 or 60 others companies in town and find somebody that won't work about going through the hassle of pulling the permit, and there's alot of them out there."
Bay county and Beach officials say they're just enforcing the law.
Bay County Commissioner Mike Thomas said, "We don't go out and hunt them, we don't do anything, but if they bring it in we have to collect it and we have to inspect it.
Carnley would like to see the law changed.
"I can either try to adhere by that code and lose business, make customers mad, you know possibly make a few sales hear along the way. Or else I can ignore the law and continue on with business as usual and take my chances getting caught."
Carnley and others have raised questions about getting permits in a timely manner, especially on weekends and holidays. Thorndyke says in those cases, contractors can get a permit after the work is completed.