March 15, 2019 10:58:23 AM
Columbus City Council awarded a contract to Debris Tech for storm debris management during a special-call meeting Thursday.
Debris Tech, an Atlanta-based debris monitoring company, will be responsible for ensuring that debris removal in the city happens quickly and efficiently. Having a company in place to do this will help Columbus qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency grant funding to help the city recover from the Feb. 23 tornado and subsequent flooding that caused roughly $9.3 million in damage to city property.
The company's bid of $229 per hour was almost half of that from the only other firm to bid for the job -- True North, which quoted $440 per hour.
Jabari Edwards, whose company J5 serves as the city's project manager and coordinated the debris removal bidding, said Debris Tech offered the "same caliber" of service as True North for less cost.
Neel-Shaffer engineering firm owns True North.
But Councilman Bill Gavin, of Ward 6, said the steep price difference concerned him.
"That kind of number raises questions for me," he said. "How do we know we're getting the kind of service we need?
"Are you comfortable with it?" he asked Edwards, who said he "felt good" about recommending Debris Tech to do the work.
Edwards said Debris Tech plans to hire 12 to 15 workers locally in order to do debris monitoring. However, they cannot do any work until a federal emergency is declared, which cannot happen until FEMA completes its joint damage assessment with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. FEMA began its assessment Thursday.
The council also voted unanimously to readvertise for proposals for actual storm debris removal. Edwards said confusion about when bids were due prompted his decision to reject all the bids he had received on behalf of the city.
"In the interest of fairness, we wanted to give everyone an equal chance," he said.
Proposals for storm debris removal are due by Monday at 11 a.m.
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