As the July 14 deadline approaches for county residents to have their eligible vegetative storm debris to the roadway for pick-up, municipalities are deciding whether they will have county-engaged contractors clean up such remaining Hurricane Michael materials within their city limits. The county has three contractors on the job, and gave the towns an option to use the contactors to pick up in their jurisdictions as well.
So far, Marianna, Alford and Cottondale have opted-in.
So far, the towns of Grand Ridge, Graceville, Sneads and Jacob have declined having the county take care of the debris inside their city limits, opting instead opting to handle that in-house.
As of mid-afternoon Monday, the towns of Bascom, Campbellton, Greenwood and Malone had not given the county a written decision on whether they would opt-in or do their own remaining vegetative debris cleanup.
The county will be reimbursed by the federal government for at least 90 percent of its costs associated with picking up eligible debris in its unincorporated areas. The municipalities will also be reimbursed by FEMA at that rate for debris collected within their jurisdictions as things currently stand.
The state of Florida will reimburse them all for half the remaining 10 percent, with the county and the municipalities will be responsible for the remaining five percent of the costs incurred in their respective jurisdictions, unless the obtain waivers for that expense.
But the county and the towns can each submit waivers for their current share of costs.
Jackson County Administrator Wilanne Daniels said the county has already applied for its waiver and has been given reliable encouragement that there’s a “very good chance” the waiver will be granted.
All municipalities must apply for their own waives if they hope to avoid paying the five percent share based on what was picked up by crews in their jurisdictions.
The collections are being tracked by the monitors overseeing the debris removal, Thompson Consulting, so that the work will be properly billed to and paid by the appropriate jurisdiction, should waivers not be granted.
Grand Ridge, in announcing its plan to carry out the storm debris clean-up, issued some guidelines for the public that largely mirror the county’s guidelines for its citizens.
Like Jackson County, Grand Ridge has adopted July 14 as the last day eligible debris can be brought to the right-of-way. And also like Jackson County, it set the beginning of the final pass of debris crews as July 15.
And also mirroring the county in defining what’s eligible, the town advises that it includes only natural debris like limbs, brush and trees, that were the result of Hurricane Michael, and which was generated on residential property, rather than on unimproved lands.
Grand Ridge will pick up eligible degree within the entire incorporated city limits, but warned that consequences will await those who place debris on the right-of-way past July 14, or who bring in debris from outside the city limits and try to have it hauled by the in-town crew. The town’s notice says that any material placed in the right-of-way past the deadline will be declared a nuisance, and also warned that those who haul in debris from outside the town “will be prosecuted” if they do so.
The county has also said it plans to enforce the July 14 deadline and eligibility guidelines aggressively.
The town and the county also share the same definition of eligible and ineligible debris.
The two describe ineligible debris similarly, both specifying in written notices that they will not pick up ineligible debris such as that generated on unimproved properties, construction debris, and hazardous household wastes.
Daniels said this week she is pleased so far with the work Thompson Consulting is doing as to determining eligibility and in other aspects of their work.
She also said that concentration of household wastes will begin after sthe last-pass for vegetative debris, but stressed that the May 31st deadline for getting household items to the right-of-way has not been extended. Anything in that category that wasn’t in place by that date, she said, should not be brought to the roadway now.
No vegetative debris should be mixed with other kinds of storm-related debris.