Houston City Council approved a supplemental contract worth $60 million to be paid to the city’s hired company for managing debris removal after Hurricane Harvey.
Supporters of the enhanced contract maintain the designated company will speed up the cleanup process, while opponents believe the city is wasting money with a firm that does not pick up debris or own a single truck.
The city already spent its $20 million “rainy day fund,” but still faces more than $26 million in cleanup costs.
Houston leaders hope to see some of those costs reimbursed by state and federal disaster management agencies; however, the city must show proper documentation for its cleanup efforts.
“You can only get reimbursed [by FEMA] if you have the monitoring,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement, further supporting the city’s decision to streamline the contractor clean up process.
City Council Member Dave Martin brought up the contractors, the slow speed of the cleanup process and the high costs of the monitoring process prior to the vote on the contract:
“You have three companies that we’re talking about, DRC, Donnatto and Tetra Tech. None of them own a truck,” he said in an interview. “None of them pick up any garbage. They do an administrative function.”
As part of the $60 million, the three companies are each assigned unique roles:
DRC subcontracts the hauling process to various waste disposal and transportation firms, while Donnatto Group serves as a government relations firm, which, according to its website, “strive(s) to insure that public officials have a clear concise understanding of our clients mission, goals, and objectives.”
Tetra Tech monitors the pickup process to ensure it meets FEMA requirements.
Councilman Martin said these functions “should be handled internally instead of outsourcing it to three companies who are making a great deal of money and not picking up a bit of debris.”
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