Wellington bucks paper, plans electronic system for storm debris

The village is moving into the 21st century when it comes to monitoring hurricane debris.

The village council on Tuesday night approved as part of its consent agenda a contract to bring in a service that will electronically keep track of how much debris is collected throughout the village following a storm.

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“We don’t do these storms very often so it doesn’t pay to have the expertise and all of the equipment to do electronic debris monitoring and filing, so we’ll have a contract in place to do it,” village manager Paul Schofield told the council at Monday’s agenda review workshop.

The measure approved by the council lines up three contractors to handle the electronic monitoring, while also helping Wellington in its dealings with Federal Emergency Management Agency. If the first contractor is not available following a storm, then the other two will be contacted.

The primary contract, awarded to Lake Mary-based Thompson Consulting Services, will cost about $1 per cubic yard of debris. So for the approximately 200,000 cubic yards of debris Wellington collected after Hurricane Irma, the village would have paid Thompson about $200,000, general services director Ed De La Vega said Monday.

The second contractor is Witt O’Brien’s LLC, and the third is Rostan Solutions LLC.

The cost will be eligible for reimbursement by FEMA, De La Vega said.

RELATED: New pre-hurricane step should speed Wellington debris cleanup

Thompson’s system will allow Wellington to ditch the paper ticketing system it has used in the past. The village has thousands of tickets it used to keep track of debris collected during Irma, De La Vega said. “So basically we have real-time information as we’re collecting the debris,” he said.

The system will allow Wellington to keep better track of which areas have been picked up, and which are in the process, De La Vega said.

It also will free up Wellington staff members who last year were tapped to serve as debris monitors after Irma. That included code enforcement officers who helped track debris-removal trucks as they passed through the village, a requirement for FEMA reimbursement. “We probably had a dozen people in the field at any given moment monitoring debris,” Schofield said.

MORE WELLINGTON NEWS: Wellington braces for more wet weather — and mosquitoes

Payroll and administration costs for Wellington staff during Irma cleanup was about $700,000, De La Vega said. He believes the electronic system will cut that price tag.

The council also approved a reordering of the village’s contracts with debris removal companies, with Georgia-based TAG Grinding now the first company officials will call to help with clean-up efforts. Wellington in 2016 approved contracts with three companies through 2019 for debris removal, with a plan to first call DRC Emergency Services, then AshBritt Environmental, then TAG.

But both DRC and AshBritt were unable to come to Wellington after Irma because of demand from other areas including Texas, which was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey just weeks before Irma hit Florida, Schofield said.

“Our experience with TAG was good,” he said. “I don’t think we had any issues with them at all.”

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