COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A city council member works for the corporation that could take over Colorado Springs' city fleet division.
The city confirmed Friday that it's in talks with Serco, a British firm with offices around the world, including in Colorado Springs.
Council member Andy Pico has worked for Serco since 1995. He says his position is now part-time.
"There's really a non-story here," Pico told KRDO. "People come to work for city council, they have their businesses elsewhere and they recuse themselves from things where there is a potential conflict of interest."
Both Pico and the mayor's chief of staff maintain that Pico has recused himself from all conversations regarding fleet changes. The city recently announced that it plans to save nearly $2 million over three years by outsourcing its fleet division beginning next year. The city has just started negotiations with Serco.
Pico said he learned of the potential for Serco to take over the fleet division when he was running for council.
"I filed in January and started out (running) at that time," Pico said. "I found out in February when the Colorado Springs Utilities contracts office gave me call."
Pico said from that point, he has taken appropriate action to make sure he is not involved in any discussion about the issue, neither at Serco nor at the city level.
"Once I was elected, I made sure Colorado Springs city administration was also aware," said Pico. "Talked to the city attorney, made sure everything was fire-walled and that I was isolated from anything to do with the contract. So if you ask me anything, I really don't know."
Chief of Staff Laura Neumann said Pico had nothing to do with the city's decision.
"The process started long before Andy Pico ran for council or certainly was elected for council," said Neumann. "So the process was well underway, the short list was well underway. And he had no influence whatsoever in our decision."
Pico adds that he doesn't work for the same division of Serco, a huge global company providing government services, that would control fleet.
KRDO was there after a mandatory meeting for fleet employees when they found out their jobs will be outsourced. About 60 workers will be impacted. In addition to saving $1.9 million in costs over three years, the city says it will save millions more by not having to pay into PERA, the city's retirement plan.
"Basically just disappointment, surprise that it really finally happened," said a 22-year fleet employee of the mood among workers.
Neumann said that Serco is interested in hiring current workers, but with potential cuts to pay and benefits.
Pico says if the company does get the contract, he will continue to stay out of all conversations on the matter.
"I will have nothing to do with the management or the oversight of the contract," he said.
The city's code of ethics says this: "A conflict of interest exists when there is any personal or financial relationship that could influence or be perceived to influence the representation or conduct of business for, or on behalf of, the City. A conflict of interest also exists when any improper and undue influence can be exercised, or be perceived to be exercised, concerning a direct action involving the City. A conflict of interest may exist when there is an appearance of impropriety. No conflict of interest is allowed."