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Joliet panel takes another look at minority contracting

The Joliet Diversity and Community Relations Committee took a close look at the issue with minority contracting at its Feb. 12 meeting.

Kendall Jackson, community development director for the city, said staff has been looking into the range of cost for conducting a disparity study.

“Other cities have done studies,” he said.

Jackson said the cost varies based on the size of community and the complexity of study, so much it’s difficult to compare one to another.

“It’s really not apples to apples,” he said.

The city has not completed the request for proposals process, to date.

“It’s difficult to talk about a cost for Joliet without going through a formal request for proposals process,” Jackson said.

Officials said a disparity study could cost the city as little as $250,000 or more than $500,000.

Councilwoman Bettye Gavin asked if the city could pull any information at all from the Illinois Department of Transportation’s disparity study.

Jackson said it should be tailored to the community because “there’s data that would come out of the IDOT report that would say, ‘yes, there is a general disparity when it comes to certain contracting opportunities.’”

“You have to really tailor it to your jurisdiction,” he said.

The last time the panel met was May 29, 2018.

Cornell Darden, Jr., president of the South Suburban Region Black Chamber of Commerce, questioned what the city has done to address the issue with minority contracting since the last time the diversity and community relations committee met. He said he believes a disparity study is needed in order to draft a minority contracting ordinance.

“We’ve had much resistance,” Darden said.

Darden referenced Senate Bill 0177, speaking of how the legislation could prompt the city to lose motor fuel tax dollar disbursements, if a minority participation plan is not implemented.

“I think the best way that we could make this right is to do it now before we have to look at losing our motor fuel taxes,” he said.

Councilwoman Jan Quillman questioned the legality of requiring project leaders to turn to locally-owned minority contractors.

Jackson said he believes there exists a local preference clause the city could use.

“That’s something we could provide in more detail,” he said.

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