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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Just The Facts: The Truth About The City's Pre-Disaster Contract.

"Though that contract was signed by “Shelton ‘Mac’ Watts” on June 24, 2014, former Mayor Mac Watts confirmed today that he did not actually sign that contract and did not give permission to anyone else to sign that contract on his behalf. "

Removing flood-related debris was a top priority of the City of Central’s administration following the flood of 2016. To ensure that the City of Central’s debris removal expenses would be reimbursable by FEMA, the City was required to competitively bid the contract for debris removal services. To that end, the City of Central issued a request for proposal (“RFP”) for debris removal.

Twenty-one companies provided proposals in response to the RFP. Following an extensive analysis and scoring of those proposals by three representatives of the City, Crowder Gulf was selected as the City’s debris removal contractor. Crowder Gulf is a national full-service debris management firm with over forty-seven years’ experience helping communities like ours recover from disasters. It has successfully managed debris clean-up operations in fifteen states and completed over three hundred disaster recovery projects.

The City’s contract with Crowder Gulf provides that Crowder Gulf shall be paid for the loading, hauling, and disposing of debris, as follows: $11.75 per cubic yard for construction and demolition debris, $25.00 per white good (appliances), $.50 per pound for dead animals, and $8.94 per pound for hazardous and household waste. These amounts are all less than or equal to those secured by a large neighboring community, who had a debris removal contract in place prior to the flood, and who by virtue of its size and location, would seemingly be in a better bargaining position than the City of Central.

The City’s debris removal contract, which covers approximately sixty-six square miles (and 27,000 residents), is not expected to exceed eight million dollars, of which ninety-percent is reimbursable by FEMA. By comparison, the Mayor of Denham Springs, which has a population of 10,000 and covers roughly ten miles, has stated that its contract for debris removal will total approximately fourteen million dollars.

The City’s contract with Crowder Gulf is through August 23, 2017, and may be extended for two additional twelve-month periods.

Throughout the RFP and contracting process, the City was in close contact with representatives of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to ensure that all steps were properly followed and approved prior to execution. While that submission and approval process was ongoing, the City entered into an emergency debris removal contract with a local contractor, in accordance with the federal regulations. That contract, which was limited by federal law to seventy hours, was approved by GOHSEP and enabled the City to promptly begin debris removal services. In fact, though other local areas may have had existing debris removal contracts in place prior to the flood, the City of Central was the first in our area to begin the debris removal steps.

All debris removed by the temporary contractor was taken to a temporary debris management site, where it remained until it was permanently moved to the landfill by Crowder Gulf. This process of using a temporary site was utilized so that the City could maximize the amount of debris removed under the temporary contract, in an effort to make the City’s roadways and neighborhoods as safe as possible as quickly as possible.

It has recently been haphazardly suggested that the City should have extended its prior contract with Bergeron Emergency Services for debris removal, which contract expired in December 2015. Though that contract was signed by “Shelton ‘Mac’ Watts” on June 24, 2014, former Mayor Mac Watts confirmed today that he did not actually sign that contract and did not give permission to anyone else to sign that contract on his behalf.

Even so, Bergeron Emergency Services is not and has never been a contractor licensed to perform debris-removal services in the State of Louisiana. Moreover, its registration with the Secretary of State’s office has been inactive for years. Finally, the City’s prior contract with Bergeron was never pre-approved by GOHSEP and did not include all of the contract provisions required by FEMA for federal reimbursement, and thus any extension of the pre-existing contract would have been extremely detrimental to the City’s efforts to recover flood-related expenses from FEMA. For all of these reasons, the City was not in a position to extend its contract with Bergeron, and any suggestions to the contrary are ignorant of the legal requirements involved in the debris removal process.

Nevertheless, Bergeron was welcome to submit a proposal in response to the City’s RFP, which RFP was advertised on the City’s website and made available to many (and all) contractors who contacted the City post-flood with inquiries regarding the status of our debris removal contract. Again, though, Bergeron would not have been selected because it did not meet the requirements set forth in the RFP that all proposers hold an active commercial license issued by the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors, as is required by state law.

The safety and welfare of the citizens of Central have been the top priority of the City’s administration following the flood of 2016. If you have any concerns about the City’s post-flood recovery, please contact Mayor Shelton at (225) 262-5000.

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