The Liberty County Development Authority on Monday adopted a minority/woman business-enterprise policy revision that had been months in the works.
Authority attorney Kelly Davis presented an overview of changes to the policy and prompted a two-hour discussion on the issue prior to the board’s vote.
Though the board discussed raising its participation goals, the adopted policy contains the same goals as the original: 10 percent participation for minority-owned businesses and 3 percent for women-owned.
The quotas apply to construction contracts valued at $100,000 or more and professional and vendor contracts with an annual or per-contract amount of $75,000 or more.
The policy does not require all contractors or service providers to meet the participation quotas; however, it does award preference based on either meeting the quotas or demonstrating a “good-faith effort” as defined in federal 49 CFR Appendix A to Part 26.
The most-debated element of the policy was a waiver of technicalities and deficiencies clause, which Davis said would grant the authority the ability to consider bids even if they do not adhere 100 percent with the technical submission guidelines.
That triggered a lengthy discussion about whether to allow such bids to be considered or whether it would qualify them as “unresponsive.” The board agreed to leave the clause in place for future purposes, but that it is not likely to grant exclusions to its technical submission guidelines.
Davis added such provisions typically are in bid documents.
“It doesn’t mandate that you do it; it simply gives you the discretion to do it as you wish …,” he said. “This is not going to change what you’re doing in the past, nor is it going to change what you’re doing in the future.”
Board member Paul Krebs, who owns a construction company and has voiced opposition to the policy before, reiterated his sentiment.
“I get back to the responsibility of the LCDA, and that is to use the resources that it has — like property taxes — to maximize the benefit of those funds expended … ,” Krebs said, adding he thinks the board has an obligation to always honor the lowest bidder or else it is doing a disservice to taxpayers. “Anything that will add to the cost of a construction contract, in my opinion, should not be included in that contract.”
Davis said bids submitted by MWBE vendors still are subject to being competitive and can be rejected it they are not.
Board member state Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, and Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas spoke about the merits of the program.
“If we use federal government funds in any of our projects, we are required to comply with 49 CFR,” Thomas said.
Board Chairman Allen Brown and members Williams, Brian Smith, Jim Thomas and Robert Stokes, who participated by phone, voted in favor of the policy. Krebs voted against the policy. Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette left before the vote was taken.
The board also heard financial updates and approved a budget adjustment to reflect line-item changes that did not affect the overall budgeted amounts.
Board secretary Brian Smith reported the authority is running ahead on revenues and has held the line on expenditures and said he thinks the LCDA will close its year in the positive.