Stump Removal

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter Appeal Analysis

Appeal Brief

Disaster1539
ApplicantCharlotte County
Appeal TypeSecond
PA ID#015-99015-00
PW ID#5882
Date Signed2007-10-26T04:00:00
Summary: On August 13, 2004, strong winds and rain from Hurricane Charlie damaged and downed trees throughout Charlotte County, depositing stumps on public rights-of-way and private property. The Applicant incurred costs for the contract removal and disposal of these stumps. FEMA obligated PW 5882 on August 10, 2005, for $1,100,614.66 for stump removal. FEMA denied $1,107,132 in per-stump removal costs for stumps less than or equal to 24” in diameter. In accordance with Disaster Specific Guidance #17 (DSG 17), FEMA converted stumps in this size class to a cubic yardage volume for disposal as debris. FEMA also denied costs associated with stump removal from private property and Federal Aid System roads, as well as costs associated with load ticket discrepancies. In its first appeal, datedSeptember 27, 2005, the Applicant stated that FEMA was retroactively applying DSG 17 to require conversion of smaller stumps to a debris volume. On August 28, 2006, the FEMA Regional Director denied the appeal, citing DSG 17, and stating it had been correctly applied to the PW. The Applicant submitted a second appeal on August 10, 2006, requesting additional funding for unspecified, denied debris removal costs and stating that no debris or stumps were removed from privately owned roadways.

Issues: Did the Applicant provide documentation sufficient to support its claim that no stumps were removed from private roadways?

Findings: Yes.


Rationale: 44 CFR §206.206

Appeal Letter

October 26, 2007

Mr. W. Craig Fugate
Florida Department of Community Affairs
Division of Emergency Management
2555 Shumard Oak Boulevard
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2100

Re: Second Appeal – Charlotte County; PA ID 015-99015-00, Stump Removal
FEMA-1539-DR-FL, Project Worksheet (PW) 5882

Dear Mr. Fugate:

This letter is in response to your letter dated September 23, 2006, transmitting the second appeal from Charlotte County (Applicant), dated August 10, 2006. The Applicant is appealing the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA's) determination that the Applicant removed stumps from private property, which were ineligible for funding under the Public Assistance Program. While the Applicant’s appeal disputes a total amount of $1,871,099.00 in debris removal costs for a wide range of debris removal activities, the scope of work of PW 5882 only includes stump removal. Accordingly, only the eligibility of stump removal is addressed in this response.

For reasons explained in the enclosed analysis, I have determined that the cost associated with the removal of stumps originally determined to have been removed from private roadways is eligible. Therefore, I am partially granting the appeal and am requesting that the FEMA Regional Administrator prepare a Version to PW 5882 for $52,834.72 to implement this determination.

Please inform the Applicant of my decision. This determination constitutes the final decision on this matter pursuant to Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations §206.206.

Sincerely,

/s/

Carlos J. Castillo
Assistant Administrator
Disaster Assistance Directorate

Enclosure

cc: Mayjor Phil May
Regional Administrator
FEMA Region IV

Appeal Analysis

BACKGROUND

On August 13, 2004, severe winds and heavy rains from Hurricane Charley damaged and downed trees throughout Charlotte County, FL. Tree stumps were deposited on public rights-of-way and on private property. Charlotte County (Applicant) incurred costs for the removal and disposal of tree stumps that posed threats to health, safety, and property. The Applicant requested assistance from the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the cost of the stump removal.

The Applicant’s debris removal contractor removed 9,306 stumps throughout Charlotte County from September 20, 2004 through November 10, 2004, at a total cost of $3,293,382. FEMA requested a validation survey to determine the number of stumps originating from the public rights-of-way and to evaluate the overall eligibility of the stump removal. After deducting the number of stumps removed from Federal Aid System roads, private roads, and unimproved property, and deducting stumps due to load ticket discrepancies, FEMA determined that a total of 6,050 stumps were eligible to be included in the validation sample. From this sample, FEMA selected a subset of 2,906 stumps for an analysis of stump size distribution. Of this subset, 21.5 percent of the stumps had diameters greater than 24 inches. FEMA applied this same percentage to the entire set of eligible stumps, resulting in an estimated 1,301 stumps eligible for reimbursement at the per-stump price established in the contract. FEMA assumed the remainder of eligible stumps were less than or equal to 24” in diameter and were converted to cubic yards (CY) for reimbursement based on the unit cost per CY for debris removal, transport, and reduction in accordance with Disaster Specific Guidance (DSG) 17.

Based on the analysis described above, FEMA obligated PW 5882 on August 10, 2005, for $1,100,614.66 for stump removal performed from September 20, 2004 through
November 10, 2004.

First Appeal

In a letter dated November 16, 2005, the Applicant appealed FEMA’s decision to reimburse stumps less than 24” in diameter at a converted CY volume rate. The Applicant stated that “FEMA is retroactively applying Disaster Specific Guidance #17, dated November 30, 2004, as well as direction provided in a May 17, 2005 memorandum to stumps removed prior to November 30, 2004. The County and its contractor acted in good faith that they were following rules as set forth by FEMA prior to November 30. There should not be any stump to debris conversion since all of the stumps included in this project worksheet were picked up prior to November 30, 2004.”

The Applicant also disputed FEMA’s determination regarding the removal of stumps from private roads, stating that “every effort was specifically made not to pick up debris from private roads.” The Applicant requested that FEMA provide an additional $1,011,333.28 for stump removal. This amount represented the difference between reimbursements that the Applicant received from FEMA for $1,100,614.66 under PW 5882, the amount received from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for $1,249,987.21, and the total contractor invoiced amount of $3,361,935.15 for stump removal. Note that the total contractor invoiced amount documented under PW 5882 was $3,293,382.00. It is assumed that the Applicant included amounts from additional invoices that were not provided at the time of the PW preparation.

In a letter dated April 28, 2006, the FEMA Regional Director denied the first appeal. FEMA described the verification and sampling process used to determine the number of eligible stumps. The response states: “On May 13, 2005, FEMA promulgated an advisory memorandum to address the applicability of DSG 17 for stumps that were excavated and/or collected prior to November 30, 2004, as well as ambiguities in FEMA-325, Debris Management Guide, pertaining to stump excavation and removal.”

The FEMA Regional Director determined, “The Applicant has not provided specific documentation that demonstrates FEMA inappropriately calculated eligible stumps and the estimated reimbursement costs regarding the same. FEMA has promulgated specific guidance, such as DSG 1, DSG 17, and the Memorandum dated May 30, 2005, which is issued to FEMA field staff, in order to provide uniform guidance and consistent application to all applicant issues regarding stump excavation and removal.”

Second Appeal

On August 10, 2006, the Applicant submitted a second appeal of PW 5882, with the disputed amount increased to $1,871,099.00, from the first appeal amount of $1,011,333.28. The Applicant asserts that no debris was removed from private property. In support of its assertion, the Applicant provided debris zone maps “that were printed large and handed out to every debris contract hauler and monitor daily...They show private roads and road segments along with the list of private roads. All contractors were notified not to pick up private debris. No private debris was picked up during the first pass.” The Applicant states that it was “able to reconstruct debris removal routes of individual contractors by ordering their load tickets and mapping the streets and were able to prove they were picking up in areas that had no private debris.” The Applicant states that it did eventually authorize its contractors to remove debris that private property owners had moved to the public rights-of-way.

Further, the Applicant gives detailed examples of debris collection along Rio Villa Drive, and explains that it “cannot identify any part of it that is private, yet every load ticket from Rio Villa Drive (16 loads) are all declared private.” The second appeal states “We can rebuild the detail of every street and road if we are given enough time, however, if you will remove all private debris denials during first pass, and if you remove all ineligible denials from first pass; your load tickets will more accurately reflect the reality of debris removal.”

The Applicant requests that “all load tickets labeled as private during first pass should be paid as eligible. All load tickets labeled as ineligible during first pass should be paid as eligible unless there is a clear and compelling reason that will be identified for each load. All white goods will be allowed since they were only picked up on public roads.” However, the Applicant did not provide any explanation regarding how the disputed amount of $1,871,099.00 is related to the amount determined to be ineligible under PW 5882 for stump removal ($2,192,767.34).

Finally, the Applicant states, “We understand there is no recourse for the payment of stumps removed with a diameter less than 24 inches.”

DISCUSSION

In its second appeal, the Applicant requests additional funding ($1,871,099.00) without detailing the specific eligible work represented by this amount. The Applicant is not appealing FEMA’s determination regarding converting stumps less than 24” in diameter to a CY volume of debris. The second appeal disputes a wider range of debris removal activities, beyond stump removal, which were not included in the scope of work of PW 5882.

The scope of work of PW 5882 included stump removal only. Accordingly, only the eligibility issues related to stump removal will be addressed under this appeal response. Should the Applicant wish to appeal other determinations made regarding other debris removal activities, including white goods removal and disposal, the Applicant should submit an appeal of the PWs prepared to fund those activities.

The only issue related to stump removal that is addressed in the Applicant’s second appeal is stump removal from private property. With its second appeal, the Applicant provides documentation which supports its posct analysis of load tickets related to two of the roads that FEMA had considered private and the debris zone maps discussed above in the Background section of this analysis. The Applicant has demonstrated that it managed its debris removal operations to prevent the collection of debris from private roads.

Under PW 5882, FEMA determined that $96,898.00 of the total contractor-invoiced amount for stump removal was ineligible, as it was associated with the removal of a total of 263 stumps (54 [6”–12”], 147 [12”–24”], 47 [24”–48”], and 15 [>48”]) from private roads. Based on the documentation submitted with the second appeal, the Applicant’s contractor did not remove any stumps from private property; therefore, the removal of the 263 stumps is eligible for funding.

The breakdown of the 263 stumps by size category and associated eligible costs are shown below in Table 1. The eligible costs are based on the appropriate conversion rate specified in DSG 17 for stumps less than or equal to 24” in diameter, and at the per-stump contract rate for stumps larger than 24” in diameter. The total additional eligible cost associated with stumps previously determined by FEMA to have been removed from private property is $52,834.72.

TABLE 1

Size Category 6"–12"
Number of Stumps 54
0.6 CY/stump conversion to debris 32.4 Volume (CY)
$9.55 debris transport/CY $ 309.42 Transport Cost
$6.29 debris reduction/CY $ 203.80 Reduction Cost
$ 513.22 Subtotal Cost

Size Category 12"–24"
Number of Stumps 147
2.3 CY per stump conversion to debris 338.1 Volume (CY)
$9.55 debris transport/CY $ 3,228.86 Transport Cost
$6.29 debris reduction/CY $ 2,126.65 Reduction Cost
$ 5,355.50 Subtotal Cost

Size Category 24"–48"
Number of Stumps 47
Disposal cost/stump (24"–48") $728
$ 34,216.00 Subtotal Cost

Size Category >48"
Number of Stumps 15
Disposal cost/stump (24"–48") $850
$ 12,750.00 Subtotal Cost

Total amount to be added to PW 5882: $ 52,834.72 Grand Total


CONCLUSION

For the reasons discussed above, the Applicant’s appeal for $1,871,099.00 is partially granted. FEMA has determined that an additional $52,834.72 is eligible for stumps originally determined to have been removed from private roadways.
Last updated February 4, 2020