Jacksonville, FL (March 29, 2018) An email from Mike Weinstein, City’s Chief Financial Officer, stating his office would not be providing requested information to the JEA Special Committee, that investigating the potential sale of the municipal-owned utility, drove another contentious wedge between the Mayors’ Office and the City Council.
“We continue not to work on any JEA sale analysis,” Weinstein wrote in the email. “They [the Special Committee] are on their own.”
Council President Anna Brosche read the email into the record at the end of the March 29 meeting. She told the Times-Union that the email reflects the administration’s uncooperative attitude toward the council and its Special Committee to obtain needed information to make a sale decision.
Some members of the council, led by President Brosche and Council Member Garrett Dennis, believe that Mayor Lenny Curry is pushing for City Council approval to sell the utility, which could net the city a one-time windfall of several billion dollars. The mayor has denied having any plans to sell JEA. Those opposing the sale are concerned about rate increases, a decline in emergency repairs after storms and the loss of general fund contributions JEA makes to the city.
Much of the meeting featured JEA CEO Paul McElroy answering questions about the utility’s finances, reaction to hurricane damage over the last two years, and civic outreach and volunteer hours donated by JEA employees.
The meeting turned political when President Brosche asked about the $100,000 Public Financial Management JEA valuation report that was presented on Feb. 14. First McElroy asked her to call the meeting and she declined. Brosche asked McElroy who told him to request the meeting. He said Sam Mousa, the administration’s Chief Administrative Officer, instructed him to make the ask. The meeting was ultimately convened after Mayor Curry called the meeting.
Council Member Dennis asked McElroy several different ways if there was a current offer from another entity to purchase JEA. He also wanted to know if the JEA Board was shopping the utility to prospective buyers. McElroy denied that there is a potential buyer. McElroy said he has heard rumors over the last two years, but they remained just speculation.