Auditor sues Indianapolis over electric car-share contract

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Marion County auditor has filed a lawsuit against the city of Indianapolis, claiming it illegally paid $6 million to an electric car-sharing service.

Marion County Auditor Julie Voorhies filed the lawsuit involving BlueIndy on Monday, asking for a temporary ban on future construction on city land. The lawsuit also seeks the return of a $6 million wire transfer from the city for deposit in a BlueIndy escrow account, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.

In a news release, Voorhies’ office contends that the city failed to conduct public bidding for the project or to get budget appropriations from the City-County Council, and that it circumvented the county auditor’s approval in paying BlueIndy. Voorhies argues that the city also didn’t pay contractors through the proper process because there wasn’t purchase order.

Voorhies’ office said she “had no choice but to file suit after repeated efforts to seek redress from the city of Indianapolis were unsuccessful.” The lawsuit seeks to have a judge rule that the city and BlueIndy, which is also named in the lawsuit, acted illegally when executing the contract.

The electric car rental service officially launched in early September. It’s a partnership between the city and French company Bollore Group, which says it’s investing $41 million and that the service will eventually have 500 cars and 200 charging stations.

The city is spending $6 million, while Indianapolis Power and Light Co. is chipping in $3 million.

Jen Pittman, spokeswoman for Republican Mayor Greg Ballard, said the lawsuit is “nothing more than a stunt orchestrated to create headlines,” accusing Voorhies, a Democrat, of “playing political games.”

“Taxpayers deserve better and so do the union workers whose jobs the auditor is threatening,” Pittman said.

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