BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Boulder County's Board of County Commissioners denied appeals filed by two competing firms that were not awarded the Marshall Fire debris removal bid, the county announced Tuesday.
Last month, Boulder County decided to contract with DRC Emergency Services, LLC, a company based in Louisiana, to handle debris removal after a bidding process.
That company was expected to start debris removal March 1 but was pushed back because of three appeals filed against the contract.
Tuesday's decision was based on information collected during the county's search for a debris removal company, including scoring that led to the committee's recommendation, according to the county.
“Boulder County unfortunately has so much experience with natural disaster, we can rely on staff expertise. The committee spent the time needed for a thorough review,” said Commissioner Marta Loachamin . “We’re trying to respond as quickly as possible to community needs to get this work done in regard to debris removal.”
The third appeal confirmed by Denver7 comes from a nonprofit registered in late January called “Demanding Integrity in Government Spending,” which claims county commissioners improperly convened executive sessions to talk about the contract.
According to a filing with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, Michael Brown, the former FEMA administrator under President George W. Bush and current 630 KHOW talk radio host, is behind the group.
The judges on the 20th Judicial District bench have recused themselves from the lawsuit.
Boulder County commissioners responded to the lawsuit, saying they are frustrated and dismayed by the lawsuit and that they do not believe bid review committees have ever been viewed as local public bodies subject to open meetings and public records laws.
“The County isn't happy about this delay,” Commissioner Matt Jones said in a press release on March 2. “We did everything properly to comply with the law, and we are confident we’ll prevail against this lawsuit. We will be responding as expeditiously as possible with the hope that the courts will resolve the lawsuit quickly. Marshall Fire survivors are waiting for debris removal to happen. Our awarded contractor is ready to go and is lining up subcontractors to perform cleanup work. It’s frustrating that anyone would want to delay our community’s ability to recover from this devastating wildfire.”
County commissioners said Tuesday's appeal denials are one of four steps needed before debris removal can begin. The other three steps are to:
- Finalize an intergovernmental agreement between Boulder County, the City of Louisville and the Town of Superior. The city and town are expected to consider the agreement on March 15. If approved, the agreement would be considered by Boulder County commissioners on March 22.
- Resolve the preliminary injunction motion in the lawsuit filed by Demanding Integrity in Government Spending. A hearing on the motion has been set for 11 a.m. on March 18.
- Sign a contract with DRC Emergency Services, LLC. Pending the outcome of the March 18 hearing, the contract could be signed by the commissioners on March 22, the same day they consider the intergovernmental agreement.
According to the county, 853 property owners have elected to participate in the debris removal program, which is estimated to cost about $55 million. The program is being funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the State of Colorado and three local governments.
County officials hope debris removal will be completed "in roughly the timeframe originally anticipated" despite the delays.
For more information on the debris removal program, click here.