State hasn’t paid Illinois landscape contractor since last July

JP Robson, owner of EMC2 LandscapingJP Robson, owner of EMC2 Landscaping

As legislators in Illinois struggle to find a middle ground and settle on a budget, landscaping companies that are under contract with the state suffer the consequences.

Although Illinois’ state government has not shut down, it has been operating without a budget for for more than nine months now.

As Gov. Bruce Rauner tries to keep lawmakers at the table to hash out a spending plan, landscapers like J.P. Robson, owner of EMC2 Landscaping, struggle to make ends meet. Robson hasn’t been paid by the state since July of last year.

Currently EMC2 Landscaping is under contract to mow the grass, trim the bushes and see to other landscaping duties at the 5-acre central management office in Des Plaines, which serves as the District 3 Headquarters for the state police and the regional office of the Illinois Lottery.

Despite its failure to pay him, the state still expects Robson to continue to cut the grass every week.

Robson has five employees right now and had to sell one of his trucks and take out a high-interest loan just to make it through the winter.

He assumes his company will finally get paid when a budget is agreed upon, but he has heard it could be November before a compromise is reached.

“Even when I do get paid, it doesn’t get remotely close to covering the high-interest loan I had to take out,” Robson said.

As of right now, Robson is looking into whether he can break the contract with the state without being penalized. He said he is unlikely to do another state contract even if the budget gets straightened out.

“They were one of our slowest paying clients,” Robson said. “It took 90 days plus. It’s tough to run a small business when you don’t get paid for a 100 days.”

The state offers contracts for three-year periods. Robson’s company has been working for the state for at least six years and his contract was renewed before the budget crisis struck.

“Now I’m on the hook for two more years,” he said.

The state contract is his biggest maintenance contract, but he also does residential and commercial work. Robson installs playgrounds as well – work that has been especially helpful of late.

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