HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Township Committee approved an ordinance Monday that would require the township to guarantee nearly $200,000 in annual contracts would go to veterans.
Officials voted 4-0 Monday night, with Committeewoman Aline Dix absent.
“The overwhelming feeling among the veterans that I have spoken to is there is absolutely a need” to create some work for veteran-owned businesses, said township resident Bob Campbell.
Others objected. Russell Bongiovanni Sr., chairman of the township’s veterans’ advisory board, said the ordinance still needed work. In a statement read by Egg Harbor Township resident Kim Yoder, Bongiovanni accused unspecified supporters of having “a personal and political agenda” to have it passed.
Bongiovanni previously said the ordinance should be on a county-wide basis or at least require the set-aside go to local veterans.
Township Committeeman Rodney Guishard, sponsor of the legislation, accused Bongiovanni of baseless criticism. “There has never been a suggestion about how to make things better,” Guishard said.
“This should not be a political event at all,” Guishard added. “This should be about veterans.”
The measure is based on a state law signed by Gov. Chris Christie in January 2013 that allows municipal and county governments require up to 5 percent of municipal contracts go to either veterans or to firms majority-owned or majority-operated by veterans.
A number of local governments across the state have since considered the proposal. A review of legal advertisement records, however, suggests that only the cities of Camden, in November, and Newark, in March, actually enacted a veteran’s set-aside.
Guishard, a Democrat, has said he based the proposal on one that the Atlantic County freeholders tabled last fall. Guishard, an Air Force veteran, originally proposed setting aside 5 percent of municipal contracts because he said he thought it would help veterans transition to civilian life.
Subsequent changes required veterans make up at least half the employees of qualifying firms, up from 25 percent, and reduced the targeted amount from 5 to 1 percent of township contracting.
Township Administrator Michael Jacobs has said the 1 percent would be worth about $184,000.
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