Connecticut towns continue to use a state storm cleanup contract despite a Raising Hale investigation last year exposing at least $20 million in waste.
The state contract with the Florida-based company AshBritt is an option open to cities and towns, but not one they are required to use.
Towns that didn’t use the state contract cut their total costs by more than half, generating savings for local residents and taxpayers nationwide because the Federal Emergency Management Agency typically reimburses towns for 75 percent of their costs.
For example, AshBritt charges $21.25 per cubic yard for debris removal. Locally bid contracts paid less than $8 for the same service. Towns paid AshBritt $210 to cut down a tree six to 12 inches in diameter. A contractor used by three towns charged less than $50 to remove a tree of the same size.
Some have also questioned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to use the Connecticut contract as a model for an agreement with AshBritt in his state.
Raising Hale published its investigation last October, just as Superstorm Sandy was bearing down on Connecticut.
According to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, eight towns used the state contract to clean up after Sandy: Bethany, Branford, Fairfield, Greenwich, Milford, New London, Weston and Woodbridge.
In February, after the snowstorm called both Charlotte and Nemo, Berlin and Fairfield used the state contract with AshBritt.