The issue of whether to create contract set-asides for veterans will be raised again at Tuesday’s Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting, one month after the proposal was controversially postponed.
This time, the proposal will have the unanimous backing of the Atlantic County Veterans Advisory Board.
The proposal is based on a state law allowing counties and municipalities to designate some contracts for businesses owned by or employing veterans. To qualify, a business must be at least 51 percent owned by a veteran, or veterans must perform at least 25 percent of the work on the county contract.
The ordinance, introduced by Democratic Freeholder Colin Bell, would create a goal of 5 percent of county contracts, not a quota.
A vote on the ordinance, first discussed in May, was postponed at an Aug. 13 meeting after concerns were raised by Republican freeholders about how it would be implemented and whether the state Department of Community Affairs or county administration would provide a framework.
Bell and fellow Democrat Charles Garrett said approving the ordinance would be the first step in getting such a framework created.
Freeholders of both parties expressed frustration with county administration for not answering their questions.
At its meeting Thursday at the Disabled American Veterans chapter in Northfield, the Atlantic County Veterans Advisory Board unanimously recommended the ordinance be adopted.
The meeting included a “healthy discussion,” Bob McNulty, president of Vietnam Veterans of America Post 825 in Mays Landing, wrote in an email.
“Howard Kyle, (county) Chief of Staff, discussed the pros and cons of the ordinance and the challenges that lie ahead in implementation. His remarks were thorough, informative and clearly outlined the shortcomings. He asked for an idea of where the Board members and veteran public in attendance stood on the issue. Those in attendance indicated they were in favor of moving forward with the proposal.”
A question-and-answer period discussed whether contracts could be targeted toward small businesses or Atlantic County businesses — according to the state law, they could not — as well as doubts as to whether the state DCA would provide a working framework.
The advisory board said it would send letters to Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson and all freeholders informing them of their decision.
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