Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

EVSC Violated Bid Law ; but Builders Get No Damages

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

EVSC Violated Bid Law ; but Builders Get No Damages

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - A scheme between the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. and the private, nonprofit EVSC Foundation to renovate the school district's new central office building in 2011 without soliciting public bids for the more than $6.5-million project violated Indiana's competitive bidding law, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday. However, the state's high court ruled unanimously a group of contractors that sued EVSC and the EVSC Foundation over the renovation project would not receive damages because the school district did not violate Indiana's antitrust laws.

The Supreme Court case stems from a lawsuit filed in 2011 by a group of contractors over EVSC's plan to remodel its Supportive Services Center at 951 Walnut St., which was used as a warehouse, into a central administrative office.

The contractors originally asked a lower court to void the contracts for the project and to stop the use of public funds because bids were not solicited. But as the case proceeded through the court system, and the building was renovated, attorneys representing the contractors told the Supreme Court they wanted the laws for competitive bidding to be clear going forward and didn't ask for the project to be undone.

"This is a victory for taxpayers and for contractors performing public work because it ensures the integrity of the public bidding process, the competitive process," said A. J. Manion, a lawyer representing the contractors in the case.

SOLD FOR $1

EVSC transferred ownership of the building to the nonprofit EVSC Foundation in 2011 for $1 because the school district didn't have the funds to complete the $6.5-million project, court records show. Before transferring the building, EVSC had approached Industrial Contractors Inc. to see if the company was willing to accept payments over time for the project, according to the ruling filed Thursday.

Under the plan, the education foundation - which doesn't have to follow competitive bidding requirements - contracted with Industrial Contractors for the renovations, then sold the building back to EVSC.

For the sale price, the foundation accepted installment payments from the school district in the amount owed to Industrial Contractors, which the foundation then paid the contractor. …

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