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A supervisor at Indianapolis Water has told state regulators the private operator of the city-owned utility falsified records to earn performance bonuses.
Tom Plummer’s testimony, filed Tuesday with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, is part of a ratepayer group’s effort to stop the city from paying Veolia Water a $29 million contract-termination fee.
The IURC is weighing the city’s request to sell the utility to Citizens Energy Group for $1.9 billion.
Consumer Ratepayers, a group that includes Plummer and 10 other water customers, on Dec. 17 alleged Veolia effectively defaulted on its management contract with the city on numerous occasions.
As such, the city could terminate the contract “for cause” and not pay Veolia the $29 million, they contend.
Underlying the complaint is their attempt to win money for salaried water employees they allege had their benefits gutted following the city’s purchase of the water utility eight years ago and subsequent management contract with Veolia.
Their complaint is the first relatively contentious filing in the IURC case and threatens to at least slow the commission’s deliberations on the sale request.
Plummer is identified as a 31-year employee who now works as operating supervisor in the utility’s central control station, which distributes water to eight counties in the metro area.
“I have personal knowledge of false record-keeping by US Filter/Veolia,” Plummer testified, referring to the previous name of Veolia’s water operations.
“Several Indianapolis Water employees told me that they were asked by (Veolia) personnel to alter records in order to make it appear that (the company) had earned an incentive payment when in fact the unchanged records would not have supported the claim for the incentive payment,” Plummer said in the complaint.
That a 31 year employee, a supervisor no less, is willing to speak out and risk his job, indicates the serious nature of the allegations. This is but one of many issues which would have justified the City cancelling the Veolia contract for cause, instead of paying Veolia a $29 million buy-out fee. Of course, Veolia is represented by Barnes & Thornburg which all but runs Mayor Ballard's administration.