Omaha officials plan to contract with two local companies to oversee the city’s private snow removal contractors this winter.
The move is expected to free up city workers, about 10 during each of two daily shifts, to plow snow on major city streets.
Mayor Jean Stothert proposes to contract with Alfred Benesch & Co. and Lamp, Rynearson and Associates to “provide on-call field investigation and contract administration services for the 2013-2014 residential snow plow contracts,” according to the agenda for the Omaha City Council’s Tuesday meeting.
Each firm would be paid about $45,000. They would send people out during snow removal operations to monitor the work being done by the city’s private contractors, said Scott McIntyre, Omaha street maintenance engineer. The firms also would verify that the residential plowing contractors actually did the work for which they billed the city, then submit those bills to the city for approval.
The firms also would check on complaints that residential streets weren’t plowed or weren’t plowed well, McIntyre said.
The work is similar to the type of contract administration that private firms do for the city on such public works projects as street resurfacing, he said. Lamp, Rynearson and Associates and Alfred Benesch & Co. have performed such services for the city on street projects, and are willing and able to do the field work for snow removal efforts as well, McIntyre said.
In the past, the city used its own personnel for contract administration and monitoring of residential snow plowing contractors. Those city personnel were construction inspectors and others whom the city has traditionally tapped to help remove snow, and to help coordinate snow removal by keeping track of trucks and materials such as sand and salt.
Many of those people were diverted to monitor the private contractors plowing residential streets.
“We were stretched a little thin,” McIntyre said. “We were taking people out of other roles, including driving snowplows.”
Last winter, city officials recognized the problem midwinter and contracted in January or February with outside firms for monitoring and contract administration, McIntyre said. This year they plan to do so ahead of time.
“We have people with the city who were involved in contract administration (last winter) who we can put in plows,” McIntyre said. “We’ve made some assignments to people who were inspectors before.”
The city’s snow removal budget is $6.755 million, about the same as last year. Overall, Omaha’s snow removal approach for the coming winter is fairly similar to that of recent years. The city will contract with 23 private contractors for residential street plowing and will focus city equipment on major streets.
The city still has odd-even parking snow emergency regulations that will come into play when there’s a major snowstorm.
The City Council meets at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Legislative Chambers of the City-County Building, 1819 Farnam St.