« Ind. Courts - More on: Over a dozen challenges filed in federal court to Indianapolis smoking ban | Main | Ind. Courts: Is It Too Early to Ask: Did Governor Daniels Reshape the Indiana Supreme Court? »

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Ind. Decisions - "Court of Appeals says EVSC and its foundation violated state's Public Bidding Laws"

Yesterday's 2-1 Court of Appeals opinion on the actions of the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp.is the subject of a story today in the EC&P. Some quotes:

[T]he Indiana Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 decision that the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. violated the state’s Public Bidding Laws when it renovated a Walnut Street building for its administrative offices.

Judges James Kirsch and Rudolph Pyle found that the EVSC’s plan to sell the building to its non-profit EVSC Foundation, then award a $6.5 million construction project to Industrial Contractors, Inc., without soliciting bids, was planned and paid for using public funds.

Pat Shoulders, attorney for the EVSC, said it appeared that the ruling is limited to the unique circumstances of the project and didn’t apply to other actions of the EVSC Foundation.

He said that while he hoped the ruling would be appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court, that decision had not been made by the EVSC yet.

The judges wrote in their decision: “This scheme has not been authorized by our General Assembly and, indeed, violates the public bidding laws that it has enacted.” * * *

The case focused on how the school district went about renovating a former warehouse building on Walnut Street to house EVSC administrative offices. The school district, which is subject to competitive bidding laws, in January 2011 transferred ownership of the building to the EVSC Foundation.

Then, the foundation hired Industrial Contractors, Inc. of Evansville for $6.5 million in construction work. The foundation solicited no other bids. It was not legally obligated to do so, according to the summary judgment signed in December 2011 by Judge Gregory Smith of Daviess County, Ind., because the rules did not apply to private entities such as foundations.

However, on Wednesday, the Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed with Smith’s decision.

The EVSC broke the transaction into six smaller parts “to accomplish their goal of renovating the Building with public money, yet evading public scrutiny and input,” the court wrote.

The appeals court continued: “The fact remains, however, that, notwithstanding the six contracts, this was one transaction — the renovation of a building owned and paid for by (the EVSC) using public funds. This was (the EVSC’s) project and not (the foundation’s) project.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 7, 2013 08:46 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions