A coalition of black business leaders and community activists will press the Prince George's County Council to enact legislation mandating that 30 percent of all county contracts go to minority firms, the group announced yesterday.

The proposal by the Coalition for Black Economic Development sets up a confrontation with County Executive Parris Glendening and Council Chairwoman Hilda Pemberton over the best way to direct a larger share of contracts to the black community.

Rather than establish a firm quota, as the coalition suggested yesterday, the Pemberton-Glendening approach calls only for a goal of awarding 30 percent of county work to minority firms.

In announcing the effort, the coalition rejected the plan put forward last week by Pemberton and Glendening that outlined nine steps to help the county reach the goal. Last fiscal year, the county awarded 19 percent of contracts to minority firms.

"It's too bad that we as taxpayers, who contribute a large share to the county government, have this constant struggle to get our fair share," said council member Floyd E. Wilson Jr., who will sponsor the coalition proposal before the council. "The primary issue is whether or not the bill addresses the needs of those who have been discriminated against down through the years."

The coalition includes the National Business League of Southern Maryland, the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Metropolitan Minority Business Opportunity Council and the Maryland Black Republican Council.

While coalition members sounded a conciliatory note, saying that they would work with county officials to combine the best aspects of both bills, June White Dillard of the National Business League of Southern Maryland said the Pemberton-Glendening plan would not be effective because "it is still a goal and not a {mandatory} set-aside."

The coalition's proposal would require that 30 percent of all contracts be set aside for bidding by minority companies. It would give 10 incentive points for county-based minority companies bidding on contracts and establish a seven-member commission to monitor county compliance.

The Pemberton-Glendening plan would give county purchasing agents the option to channel some contracts to minority companies as long as there are at least three certified minority businesses in competition and the low bid does not exceed by 15 percent the past price for the contract. Also, the county could bypass bidding and directly negotiate with a minority firm on contracts valued up to $15,000.

An independent seven-member commission would be created to monitor progress, the Minority Business Enterprise administrator would be placed on Glendening's staff and bonus rating points would be used to improve the chances of minority firms getting contracts worth $500,000 or less.

Glendening said last week he decided against a mandatory set-aside program because they have been struck down by the courts in other jurisdictions.

After yesterday's announcement, Glendening said: "As an elected official, there is no way in the world I can possibly move to adopt a program that combined legal counsel said is not constitutional. I am convinced that our proposal will be effective."

Pemberton said, "If they have proposed legislation that is legally defensible, then I'm amenable to amendments."