June 8, 2015

Indianapolis City-County Councilors Want To Sue City Over Electric Car Contract

Christopher Ayers/WFYI

Christopher Ayers/WFYI

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and the city-county council are heading toward legal action over the city’s contract to add electric vehicles to its fleet. Councilors voted Monday to sue over the city’s contract. 

Councilors spent over an hour Monday night debating whether legal action was the best way to sort out concerns with the city’s deal for 425 electric vehicles. Some councilors wanted to delay a lawsuit in an attempt to continue negotiations, but finally the lawsuit was approved.

"I’m without words," said Republican Aaron Freeman. "It does me no proud; it does me no pleasure to say this is beyond fixable. This is not fixable, this is an absolute – we are better than this as a city."

Council vice president and Democrat John Barth says the city needs to tell the truth about the contract with vehicle provider Vision Fleet.

"They jumped through hoops to do that, blackening contracts, hiding details, secretly negotiating it, but the truth is, none of us should be surprised because the same thing has happened over and over," he said.

Vision Fleet spokeswoman Jennifer Wagner said after the vote the lawsuit would hinder efforts to work out problems.

"It’s never good when someone threatens you with a lawsuit and then says, ‘hey lets go talk in the corner.’" she said. "We would prefer to handle this out of court and that will continue to be out stance."

Councilors are arguing the contract with Vision Fleet is illegal because it’s actually a purchasing agreement and not a service agreement. The city is leasing the 425 vehicles for about $75,000 each. A purchasing agreement would have to be bid out, which this $32 million deal was not.

Mayor Greg Ballard’s office called the action irresponsible and misguided.

"When one branch of government sues another, taxpayers are harmed," spokeswoman Jen Pittman said in a statement. "We believe we have a legal contract and intend to continue fleet operations without interruption."

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