A new board will likely soon vet the plumbers allowed to work in the Town of Lewiston — a move officials say will keep unscrupulous and uninsured workers from taking advantage of the town’s senior citizens.

“This came about a year ago, when we had some problems with contractors working without any sort of insurance to protect themselves,” said Town Councilman Sean Edwards, himself a member of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 22. “This will guarantee everyone going to people’s door is a licensed, registered and insured plumber.”

The plumbing board will likely be formalized at an upcoming Town Board meeting. Before that there will be a public hearing to allow residents to speak on the issue.

Alfonso Bax, another councilman, said the board will provide a necessary protection that doesn’t currently exist.

“There are many different problems we’ve dealt with that could have been resolved with some sort of continuity and reliability on the part of the professional,” Bax said of the need for the new board. “So I have a feeling people are going to benefit in that way.”

The board will consist of the town building inspector, currently Timothy Masters, the wastewater treatment facility director, currently Timothy Lockhart, two master plumbers and a liaison from the Town Board, Edwards said. The board will administer a test from a third party that potential plumbers will have to pass, and also check prospective plumbers’ credentials to make sure they’re licensed and insured.

“Every plumber will be welcome to work in the town, but they’ll need to have a license,” Edwards said. “We’ll provide every resident with a list of licensed master plumbers in the Town of Lewiston.”

Other local municipalities such as Wheatfield, Grand Island and Niagara Falls already have such a board.

But Glenn Andrews, owner of Lewiston-based Glenwood Builders Inc., is not convinced the board will be a positive step. Andrews has also recently criticized Town Supervisor Fred Newlin for his anti-development stance.

“This is just an end-around for raising taxes,” he said. “You’ll limit the field to a certain number of plumbers in Lewiston, and then the cost of plumbing goes up.”

Andrews said the town could vet the plumbers the same way they do builders such as himself — by requiring permits and certificates before they can do work. People will attend the public hearing to protest the formation of the board, he said.

“I’ve been in contact with a couple other builders and guys that do sewer work,” he said. “They’re irate over this.”

Contact reporter Dan Minerat 282-2311, ext. 2263.