Council members question transparency of $32 million Vision Fleet contract

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 30, 2015) - Council members are expressing concern about a $32 million contract to rent fuel efficient vehicles. The City of Indianapolis has already received 172 cars through the deal with Vision Fleet. About 10 new cars are being delivered to the city each week.

Entire pages and paragraphs are redacted in 46 page contract with Indy-Vision Funding LLC. On Wednesday night the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee voted to take steps to seek a subpoena of the unedited contract. The committee called for a full review of the agreement with Vision Fleet.

During the meeting, Councilor Aaron Freeman held up the document and sad, "I think I’m reading like the CIA redaction of killing Osama Bin Laden, I’ve never seen so many black marks in my life."

Remarks like that are being heard by Vision Fleet and officials with the Department of Public Works. By Thursday afternoon DPW officials said the company was working to get unedited versions of the contract to council members. It is still unclear if the full contract, without redactions with be made available to the public.

"I just think we should do better, when we’re spending $32 million dollars of the public’s money I think the public has the right to know where they’re money is going," said Freeman.

City officials said the redacted portions of the contract include trade secrets that could harm Vision Fleet if a competitor got a hold of the information. DPW Chief of Staff Jeremiah Shirk said the redactions were approved by corporation counsel and the state public access attorney.

Council members are also wondering how the city entered into the contract in the first place. Councilor Frank Mascari sent a letter to Mayor Greg Ballard requesting the city suspend all negotiations and contract execution procedures with Vision Fleet.

"This should have went through purchasing that’s what the letter says and he did not follow the law honestly I feel that this thing should be totally stopped," said Mascari.

The city plans to rent 425 cars through the duration of the seven year contract. The deal with Vision Fleet was publicly announced back in October but Councilor Freeman said the contract was signed in February of 2014.

According to the Department of Public Works, each gas-powered car costs the taxpayer an estimated $9,000 annually, while a Freedom Fleet car is expected to cost $7,400 annually.

Officials with DPW could not specify the cost per mile to drive one of the vehicles. When asked if why taxpayers can't view the document, Shirk replied, "They can when it’s appropriate the redactions are business secret and I leave that to vision fleet to decide what they want to do there," said Shirk.

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