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Appeals court rules against the city in Covanta recycling center case

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The Court of Appeals for Indiana has sided with two companies and an Indianapolis resident who challenged the city’s deal with Covanta to build a recycling center in the city.

Judge John Baker disagreed with the lower court’s ruling and determined paper manufacturers with RockTenn (now WestRock), Graphic Packaging Corp., and resident Cathy Weinmann do in fact have standing to bring the issue to the court. The court also found former Mayor Greg Ballard and his administration violated city ordinance by not following the proper public bidding requirements before awarding the contract and by signing a contract that exceeded the maximum length as determined by statute.

"We're delighted with the court's decision," said Indiana Recycling Coalition Executive Director Carey Hamilton. "We supported the plaintiffs in filing this suit because we believe a competitive and transparent process will provide the best recycling program while also best serving taxpayers."

The IRC publicly questioned the procedures that led to the contract and offered support to the plaintiffs in their case.

"We thank the plaintiffs for challenging this $100 million deal forged behind closed doors. We also give a special thanks to former Indianapolis City Council Vice President John Barth for his early leadership opposing the Covanta deal in support of an inclusive and transparent process," continued Hamilton. "Following on the heels of Mayor Hogsett's decision to hear from the community on this important issue, this will help to ensure that Indianapolis finally gets a first-class recycling program."

Two weeks ago Mayor Hogsett and Covanta officials agreed to suspend the pending contract for the proposed recycling center. The city is in the process of a 90-day investigation period to hear from key stakeholders and gather information to reassess the plan.

NUVO’s investigation of the proposal and the problems it presented can be found here.

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