Bear in mind, this blog is all opinion all the time. I try to stick with the facts, but the fact is when I veer into government and politics, the topic is simply more art than science.

Bear in mind, this blog is all opinion all the time. I try to stick with the facts, but the fact is when I veer into government and politics, the topic is simply more art than science.

To my knowledge the federal government is the only public entity in this country that can print its own money. Not a good thing when the government gets too far ahead of its supply lines, and many argue we are already so far out there is scarcely any way back. For my part, I continue to believe that this is still the greatest country in the world and our economy, even in its battered condition, is the one that will continue to lead the world’s economies. But I also believe our model will prove not sustainable, but that is another blog thankfully for some editor to report on generations for now.

So what about all those other taxing entities and those who count on tax collections for sustenance? What about the state and local police and fire departments and building departments and code enforcement bodies? Well, their tax base has been decimated by the recession. Even as the economy improves many will continue to struggle. So the folks who run these entities are no different than any of us in business: They will make cuts as long as they can while they seek new sources of revenue. They cannot print money any easier than your roofing business.

Just continuing to increase taxes on those of us blessed enough to be able to pay taxes is definitely not a good solution. Businesses have choices and outrageous taxes will cause some (often the largest) enterprises to simply pick up and move to a friendlier jurisdiction. Other sources of revenue may include new or increased fees on government services and they may include more aggressive enforcement of violations that lead to increased revenue from fines.

So the message here is fairly simple. While trying to do the same in your business (seek new sources of revenue) be aware of emerging costs that can erode future (or present) profits you will need to keep growing your business.

This is a great time to spend just a little time getting to know your building officials to find out what they are up to. This is a great time to review how you are doing relative to compliance with the USDOT (if you operate in this arena). This is a particularly great time to review your safety policies and procedures as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is on a mission to put an end to construction fatalities, including the number one cause: falls. But OSHA comes under the Department of Labor, a Federal agency … can’t they print their own money? Well, not exactly. I believe OSHA’s renewed emphasis on inspections will include a renewed (and improved) effort focused on prevention, inspections, and collecting fines.

And there may be a local component to OSHA in the works. Last May OSHA reached out to a dozen local building departments requesting that they partner with OSHA on a pilot program to be the “eyes and ears” of OSHA on construction projects. Already stressed financially, I cannot imagine local building departments doing this for free. We may have a new fleet of building inspectors who will double as “flash-trained” OSHA inspectors.

What to do? The best you can. Comply with the law as best as you know how and keep your people safe. Keep a sharp eye out for emerging taxes disguised as fees and fines; some will have to become a new part of your overhead equation. Make sure you know your rights vis-à-vis your code and building officials and OSHA. Make sure your people know what to do and who to call when a federal officer (or local deputized official) shows up at your workplace or jobsite. How you respond and manage the process can make a tremendous difference in the type and size of fine you may be required to remit.