The Bloomington Utilities Department is moving cautiously in its dealings with the international company responsible for building section 5 of Interstate 69. Last night, the Bloomington Utilities Service Board voted to table a contract with Isolux Corsan, which has experienced major financial problems in recent months. City attorney Chris Wheeler advised the Board to carefully consider any new deals with the company.
“I’m not sure that the city will be as confident entering into a contract like this with somebody who appears to be right on the verge of going bankrupt,” says Wheeler. “I don’t know what it means for us, but when we’re asking for reimbursement for various things that they’re doing to our infrastructure, the idea of the party that we’re contracting with going insolvent might leave this board a little bit concerned.”
The Board was considering a contract for the movement of a water main, which is necessary for construction of the interstate. The discussion occurred just three days after Reuters reported the parent company of Isolux Corsan had entered into a formal process aimed at avoiding insolvency. The parent company reportedly has more than 2 billion euros of restructured debt. Despite those financial issues, Utilities Engineer Jane Fleig says the company has paid the city on time so far.
“We are up to date in terms of our reimbursements. They have not completed any of the designed units yet. We’ve entered into several agreements, and none of them have been completed. There are just a lot of construction issues-things changing, things being moved around.”
Isolux Corsan has been reimbursing the Utilities Department for the time city staff spend working on projects. The contract being considered at last night’s meeting was for an estimated $15,000 in city work. That is relatively small compared to most Utilities contracts. But Wheeler says he would like the city to have more information before moving forward.
“My thoughts are to get some instruction from the mayor as to whether the city is going to continue to remain confident in its relationships with Isolux in these contracts. I think that I’d like the mayor’s office to weigh in on what we’re doing here. I would also want some instruction from Isolux themselves as to what it is they’re attempting to accomplish, and maybe get some candid information from them on how it’s going to impact their continued operations right here in Bloomington. They’ve got operations going on worldwide, and so, I can’t begin to know what this really means.”
The Board voted to table the contract for two weeks. This is not the first piece of bad financial news related to construction of Section 5, which is planned to stretch from Bloomington to Martinsville. In the past, Isolux Corsan has struggled to pay contractors building I-69 Section 5, which has slowed construction.