Council forces mayor to change city’s electric car deal

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 1, 2015) — City-County councilors outraged over the Ballard Administration’s contract to assign 425 electric-hybrid cars to the municipal fleet have successfully rebooted the Vision Fleet project.

An agreement released by the council and endorsed by Mayor Greg Ballard calls for a freeze on the 212 vehicles already in the city’s possession and a reworking of the remainder of what was originally a seven-year-long contract.

“We have been successful in essentially getting a do-over,” reads the letter to members of the Democrat caucus by Council Chief Financial Officer Bart Brown.

The revamped agreement calls for an objective study to determine how much money the city is saving by replacing traditional vehicles with plug-in electric cars, a flexible commitment on acquiring new vehicles based on budget appropriations and the assignment of police vehicles to the Department of Public Safety and not the Department of Public Works.

Critics blasted the mayor’s office for pushing the often-rewritten $30 million Vision Fleet contract through the Board of Public Works and avoiding council oversight and competing bids.

Any future acquisitions will be negotiated through the city’s standard competitive purchasing process. Those purchases will be determined by the phase-out of aging vehicles in the current city fleet.

The new contract limits the city to a four-year agreement per vehicle.

“All parties acknowledge that the public interest is best served when substantial contracts such as these are procured through an open and competitive process whenever such a process is possible,” reads the new agreement in stark opposition to the streamlined non-competitive manner in which the Ballard Administration awarded the original contract to Vision Fleet, a start-up with no other customers, in 2013.

“On behalf of the Mayor’s Office and the City-County Council, it is our mutual desire to put our public disagreements over the Vision Fleet contract behind us,” reads the joint public statement which dismisses the lawsuit council members filed against Ballard to force compliance with city purchasing rules and a re-examination of the original agreement.