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New Jersey Landscapers Rally

In Cape May, New Jersey, landscapers are trying to rally house cleaners and property maintenance workers to protest a proposed $175 mercantile license all three groups would have to purchase starting in May. "This comes out to two days of cutting lawns for free," said Nels Johnson, a Lower Township landscaper who works in the city. "We have to get property maintenance and cleaning people together."
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Johnson was among a group of landscapers who attended a recent city council meeting when the ordinance was introduced. The ordinance is up for a public hearing and council vote at the March 22 meeting beginning 1:00 p.m. at City Hall.

The ordinance would amend the City Code to require the mercantile license for lawn cutting and maintenance, unless those services are provided by self-employed individuals without employees and without the use of any vehicle for transporting equipment. A mercantile license would also be required for property maintenance and house cleaning services. Mercantile licenses commence each year on May 1.

The lawn cutters were more upset when told by a reporter that the $175 mercantile fee carries additional charges, including a $50 tourism fee and a $10 charge for the city’s Geographical Information System or GIS.

This brings the cost up to $235.

“What does landscaping have to do with tourism? They just want revenue,” said North Cape May landscaper Traci Genovese.

Johnson said this is a bad time for a new fee as the price of gasoline is rising, with $4 a gallon possible by summer. He said landscapers are afraid to increase rates because of the poor economy.

“We haven’t raised rates for three or four years for lawn customers. We will lose customers if we raise rates,” Johnson said.

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June 17, 2019, 8:44 am PDT

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