Firm hired to investigate city's Siemens claimsBy ANTHONY WARREN,
A Birmingham law firm will determine whether or not Jackson has a suit against Siemens.
The Jackson City Council recently approved hiring Lightfoot, Franklin and White LLC to “investigate and pursue claims and litigation against Siemens.”
The measure was approved following two special sessions.
Lightfoot will “investigate and pursue claims and litigation against Siemens,” according to a copy of the agenda.
The move comes more than a year after the council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to sue Siemens, and about seven years after Siemens was brought on to completely overhaul the city’s water system.
Lightfoot, Franklin and White would receive 33.3 percent of all damages recovered. However, if total expenses incurred during the investigation exceed $1 million, the firm will receive 40 percent of the net recovery.
Attorneys would receive an hourly rate if the city decides to dismiss the case “with good cause.” The hourly rate was not listed in the council packet.
It was not known at press time how long the investigation would take.
Lightfoot is a law firm based in Birmingham, Ala.
Siemens was brought on in 2012, under former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., as part of a $91 million “energy performance contract.”
The city issued nearly $90 million in bonds to pay for the work.
The work was sold as being “revenue-neutral,” meaning the city would be able to pay for it with savings generated from the improvements. The contract called for replacing the city’s existing analog meters with new electronic water meters, as well as installing a new billing system, that would make the billing department more accurate.
Work wrapped up in 2015. Instead of generating millions in savings, the water enterprise fund nearly went bankrupt last year as a result of lagging collections.
After learning that more than 20,000 customers were not receiving statements, Siemens was brought back on last year to help correct problems with the billing the system.
That work wrapped up last fall. However, public works reported that bills were still getting stranded earlier this year.
Lightfoot will be investigating Siemens as well as all subcontractors working on the project.
Siemens Smart Infrastructure spokesman Aynur Saltik said Siemens has already been cleared by a third-party review.
“The city hired West Monroe Partners to conduct an independent, third-party review. Working under the city’s direction, West Monroe Partners confirmed that Siemens successfully completed its project responsibilities,” Saltik said. “The water meter system also met contract guarantees for the first year, ending March 31, 2019. In fact, total savings exceeded the guarantee by $229,490.”
A copy of the West Monroe report can be found on our website. Click on https://www.northsidesun.com/sites/default/files/West%20Monroe%20Report.pdf