Debris bill down payment OK’d

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 23, 2006

The county made a down payment Monday on a controversial billfor debris removal following Hurricane Katrina.

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors agreed unanimously topay approximately $100,000 of a $315,000 bill for debris removalalong Heuck’s Retreat and Nola roads and Mallalieu Drive.

The contract was separate from other debris removal agreementswith the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through the Federal EmergencyManagement Agency because those roads are on a federal aid program.That places them under the auspices of the Federal HighwayAdministration.

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Shortly after Katrina, it was estimated there were approximately3,000 cubic yards of debris along the three roads and removal costswere projected at approximately $100,000.

In January, supervisors received a bill for the removal fromOddee Smith and Sons Construction, who was subcontracted for thejob, for more than $314,000. According to the bill, more than11,000 cubic yards of debris had been removed.

FEMA has not yet finished reimbursing the county for all itsother disaster recovery activities. Supervisors are upset that theymay have to pay the $315,000 and wait for FEMA reimbursement -whenever that may be.

The board admitted Monday, however, that the work had beencompleted properly and payment was due.

“There has been some expenses incurred and the work has beendone. We have to do something,” said Chancery Clerk TillmonBishop.

District Three Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson said the boardhad been “halfway prepared” to pay the original estimate of$100,000 in advance of the FEMA reimbursement, if necessary. Hesuggested the board could at least pay that much of the bill.

District Two Supervisor Bobby J. Watts immediately agreed andmade the motion, which the board approved.

No action was taken on the outstanding balance of approximately$215,000.

J. Ronny Smith, co-owner of the construction company, said theboard’s decision “doesn’t cover my expenses on this.” However, heexpressed faith that the county and the company could come to amutually satisfying agreement.

“We do a lot of work with the county and have an excellentworking relationship with them,” Smith said. “We just hope thiswill work itself out sooner than later.”

State Aid representative Marty Hilton, who is working with thecounty and FEMA on the project, said during the board’s meetingFeb. 6 that he believes the county may get reimbursement for theirexpenditures in about two months.