Jacksonville, FL (December 8, 2020) – The Jacksonville City Council in the last meeting of December for 2020, passed unanimously Bill 2020-419 which made major changes to JEA’s Charter within the Jacksonville Ordinance Code. This bill was introduced and lead by District 6, Council Member Michael Boylan as he coordinated and lead many discussions of its collaboration with the Council and other interested parties including JEA. The Bill was co-sponsored by District 11 Council Member Danny Becton in having also contributed to its ultimate outcome.
“My fellow Council Member Michael Boylan did an outstanding job moving this bill thru the process and coordinating all of the concerns and suggestions from many different parties to produce this outcome,” Council Member Becton remarked. “It is never easy in getting a consensus, especially from 19 Council Members and Michael earned and received many accolades as a result of his work and success for which he deserved.”
Council Member Becton, while working on this Bill, communicated concerns, early on regarding two major issues for which he wanted to see resolved by this bill: 1) It has always been a concern that JEA could be approved for sale by a vote of less than a “Super Majority” of City Council. While it requires a 2/3rd vote of City Council to change the charter for which it would be anticipated during a sale of JEA, a legal opinion by the city’s Office of General Council (OGC) dated June 26, 2018 offer that a “cleverly packaged” process could approve the sale of 100% of JEA by a majority vote. 2) A second issue that he raised is the charter ambiguity regarding a 10% threshold whereby JEA could sell up to that amount without any approval by City Council. In previous discussions, it was uncertain as to what that really meant especially the time period that it would apply? Could a sale be again, initiated by a “cleverly negotiated” multiple year or separate asset process, creating a type of sale that over time, could be performed? These questions and more were addressed within this Charter Change making clarity of these issues much more certain.
“Many issues from future Board Appointments, Accountability and Transparency to the ability to Expand into New Lines of Business, Process for Privatization or Transfer and Sales, to Procurement changes, all these and more were addressed in this revision to the JEA Charter,” Council Member Becton acknowledged. “Going forward, I feel, with the 2019 events that unfolded at JEA are to be a learning experience in addition to the millions of dollars wasted of taxpayer monies, the charter changes that were made by this bill today, may not have happened.”
As a result of the passage of this Bill and with the Special City Council Investigative Committee having wrapped up its work looking into the events in which privatization seem to be the outcome, perhaps as we close the book on 2020, this dark chapter in JEA’s history is now behind us. Looking ahead and at the future of JEA, we can see a bright future with New JEA CEO Jay Stowe at the helm.