Debris monitoring firm gets 6 more months in St. John

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 14, 2012



EDGARD – The St. John the Baptist Parish Council on Tuesday voted to give a six-month extension to a firm hired to manage and monitor debris removal following a disaster event in the parish.

The parish’s four-year contract with Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC, formerly Beck Disaster Recovery, was set to expire at the end of next month during the peak of hurricane season. Parish President Natalie Robottom said the parish is interested in seeking new proposals for the services but did not want to engage in the process when there is a strong possibility that a storm could affect the region.

The firm, which supervises and documents disaster debris removal at pick up and dump sites in an effort to maximize the parish’s FEMA reimbursement, had offered an 18-month extension at a discounted rate, but the council opted for only six months at the current rate. According to the contract, the firm charges about $390 per hour for all of its services during storm recovery. The firm only gets paid when the parish uses its services.

During discussions at the meeting, Councilman Art Smith had questions about the firm’s hiring practices. The contract stipulates that the firm agrees to hire locally with the exception of management positions.

Kermit Kramer, a spokesperson for SAIC, said the management positions are strictly upper management from the firm’s main office. He said the majority of the employees hired are local people.

“The last time the contract was activated was in 2008, during Gustav and Ike recovery,” Kramer said. “At that time, more than 90 percent of the employees were local, and the ones who were not local were living here while they were working. We estimated about a $30,000 return to the parish economy in 2008.”

In other action, the council voted to renew a two-year, $51,307 contract with Pictometry International for updated aerial mapping in the parish. The data collected in the aerial flyovers is used to update the parish’s Geographical Information System, which is utilized by parish offices, 911 communications, the Assessor’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.

The parish is responsible for $8,807, the Assessor’s Office pays $15,000, the Sheriff’s Office pays $7,500, the District Attorney’s office pays $5,000 and 911 Communications pays $15,000.    

The council also approved substantial completion of the airnasium at the West Bank Park Complex in Edgard. Although the covered basketball court and adjacent restroom facilities were recently completed, some on the council had some questions about the uneven ground around the structure. Trucks coming to and from the area during construction forged ridges in the ground surrounding the airnasium.

St. John Chief Administrative Officer Theresa Rodgers said the parish would handle the smoothing out of the land in the coming days.