In a recent letter by JEA’s Interim CEO Aaron Zahn (a supporter of Mayor Curry) addressed to the JEA board and city officials he believes…the BULK of the proceeds from a $18.5 million land sale should be DONATED to the City.

Donated? 

 

Yes you read that right.  Donated instead of paying back JEA (that would be us – the ratepayers) for the costs incurred with the clean up of the 30-acre site of the former Southside Generating Station.

REMINDER:  This land sale mentioned by Mr. Zahn is the same land involved in a big giveaway of subsidies for The District development that Eye has been reporting on.  The District developer is also one of Mayor Curry’s biggest supporters.   

But we digress so let’s move on to Mr. Zahn’s appeal for your money to be donated to the City.

Mr. Zahn stated in his letter,“I believe this proposal is illustrative of the type of leadership and innovation JEA needs to undertake as we seek to move JEA toward the concept of being a ‘utility of the future.”

So Zahn’s idea of a “utility of the future” is to GIVE the City more money. 

 

Zahn wants approximately $16 million from the sale to be used for initiatives like septic tank removal and extending water infrastructure. 

Isn’t that just fine and dandy but there’s one thing Mr. Zahn failed to review.  You see, my fellow ratepayers, JEA already did that and more:

  1. JEA already provides among one of the highest percentage transfer rates to local governments of all municipal utilities in the nation when considering all internal transfers and taxes and fees on utility bills.
  2. In recent negotiations with City Council which takes place every five years,  the transfer was INCREASED plus JEA already agreed to provide an additional $15 Million for septic tank phase out.
  3. JEA also agreed to provide water quality credits to the City to meet the City’s portion of the state’s environmental requirements for cleanup of the St. John’s River.  JEA banked the credits by going beyond their own state requirements for nitrogen removal from the river from wastewater plant discharge at considerable cost.  It would have been an even higher cost to the City to perform its own cleanup.

Eye wants to know:  How much is enough?  

 

Should JEA sell other assets or dip into its reserves to provide more funds to the City for what are considered “good community projects?”  

What did the City do with the money JEA already gave them for these projects?

Here’s the truth of the matter.  JEA is required by its charter to provide a transfer of funds to the City.  It is not really a negotiation because:

  1. City Council holds all the power;
  2. It can make the transfer when it wants; and
  3. It can even modify the JEA charter.  

 

With all that power, the City Council, the JEA Board and the JEA CEO need to be aware of is this:

Bond rating agencies do keep an eagle eye on transfer amounts because it affects the bottom line. Once the transfer is revised, at least it is set for the next five years and worked into revenue/expense projections.  But when additional funds are transferred beyond the bounds of the charter, it changes projections and makes one wonder what else might JEA do with its funds.

 

Let’s just keep things simple. 

In the world of accounting…if you have an expense, you find income to offset it. The $27 Million for demolition and cleanup of the Southside Generation Station was an expense to JEA.  The money came from somewhere – but not just anywhere.  It came from JEA ratepayers.  

We, the JEA ratepayers, would appreciate it if those running the utility would offset that expense with the income generated by the sale of the land to The District.  That’s just good business sense and it’s your job.

Anything less than that would stink to high heaven and appear to be political in nature.

 

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Billie Tucker has worked in the CEO world for more than 30 years and was the Chief Operating Officer of Vistage Florida, a think tank for CEOs. She started her own consulting practice, CEO Service Bureau, in 2001 and earned a reputation for her keen understanding of the motivations, challenges and goals of people and became a life-long student and teacher of leadership principles. She craved anything leadership related and enjoyed being around the world of entrepreneurial CEOs. She watched as they made decisions; pondered how they would make payroll when cash flow was tight; and appreciated how they created career opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people. Because of her experiences, she has emerged as a key resource for the media and others who want to understand important insights about executives, management teams and board dynamics. In 2008, Billie became discouraged as she watched some of her clients struggle with the political economic impacts on their businesses. The same CEOs who mortgaged their home and charged up their credit cards to make ends meet to build a business and keep others working, now watched as their government bailed out the big banks who had mismanaged their resources. She cringed as most of her clients laid off employees for the first time and she vowed she would help them… somehow…someway. That somehow…someway showed up in the Tea Party Movement in America. She formed one of the largest tea party group’s in America (more than 9,000 members strong) and helped bring attention to America’s debt problem, out of control spending, over taxation and regulation strangulation on companies. With her background in working with leaders and her influence in the political and leadership world, Billie has continued her dream to help CEOs navigate these troubling waters that permeate the world of capitalism in America. She has been an active participant in the media as a guest on CNN, Fox News, Fox Business, Bott Family Network Radio and co-hosts a political/financial radio show in the Northeast Florida market entitled, Smart Money. She was the first speaker at the House of Representatives Tea Party Caucus inaugural event and was invited by Heritage Foundation to speak at their prestigious annual Heritage Resource Bank, and on their National Security Panel live broadcasts. She spoke at the Congressional Republican House Retreat in Pennsylvania in 2012. She was also the co-host and co-producer of the CNN Tea Party Express Debate in the 2012 Presidential Election. She is a firm believer that America needs more entrepreneurs and more opportunities for people to use their God-given talents and passions to better themselves, their communities and America. Her favorite quote has become her mission to help CEOs succeed: “Vision without execution is hallucination.” – Thomas Edison

 

 

 

 

 

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