Cecil Council Mulls “Hire Local” Guidelines

The Cecil County Council agreed Tuesday to appoint a work group to examine the pros and cons of asking contractors bidding on county projects to at least consider hiring county-based vendors or subcontractors. The idea was introduced by Council President Robert Hodge, who is a local business owner and a longtime proponent of hiring locally.

From The Cecil Whig,

Hodge has brought this business initiative up in previous years, but it failed to go anywhere. This time, council members suggested the proposal has merit, but needs more study.

“I’m generally in favor of this,” Councilman George Patchell said.

Patchell, who is the executive director of the YMCA of Cecil County, said his organization tries to use local vendors whenever possible.

However, Hodge got pushback from some of the county administration, including Finance Director Winston Robinson and Department of Public Works Engineering and Construction Division Chief Phil Muzik, who said they worry that a clause that asks contractors to contact locals could result in fewer bidders.

“We don’t get enough bidders on some projects now,” said Dave Hollenbaugh, deputy director of public works.

But while Hodge said such an initiative wouldn’t take a lot of time, the administration complained that it will add more bureaucracy to the system and require an “extensive amount of work.”

“This will be a mandate similar to the minority business rules, adding four to six weeks times to a project,” Muzik said.

But Hodge said the initiative wouldn’t be a mandate.

“This would only give business to locals if they’re qualified,” he clarified.

Tentatively, the council suggested the newly formed work group should include a representative from the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce and staff from public works and procurement, as well as a representative from Cecil County Public Schools, town governments, the library, and local business owners.

Hodge, who agreed to participate in the group, said he hopes the group could conduct their first meeting within 30 days and have results within six months.

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