Council to Hear Small-Business Plan; Race-Neutral Proposal Would Set Aside 15% of City Contracts

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT GALNOR, The Times-Union

Jacksonville would take three years to phase out its Equal Business Opportunity Program, which sets goals for the amount of participation by minority and female-owned businesses.

Its proposed replacement would set aside 15 percent of city contracts for small businesses but would not make such requirements to deal with minority- and female-owned businesses, according to a proposal to be introduced at tonight's City Council meeting.

The proposal comes after three months of meetings by two commissions to determine how to best replace the city's existing Equal Business Opportunity Program. The council will not take any action on the proposal tonight and is not expected to vote until late June at the earliest.

A council committee on the issue is expected to meet this week to discuss the plan, and council President Lad Daniels said Monday he hopes the council can vote on the proposal at its June 22 meeting -- Daniels' last in his one-year term as president.

Daniels said he expects plenty of discussion on the three-year phaseout and the lack of racial component in the proposal.

"I'd love to think we could end up with a 19-zip vote on this one, but that might not be possible," he said. The council has 19 members.

Councilwoman Pat Lockett-Felder said she thinks the existing program should stay in place at least five years so the city can better judge its success or failure. …