Thank goodness for the City Council auditor and the General Counsel’s Office.
Together they exposed the JEA’s boneheaded performance pay plan scheme as illegal and financially ridiculous.
It was not always that way.
JEA began paying for performance in 1990. Used correctly, it can be an effective way to improve productivity.
Then, the CEO and Board annually set the numbers JEA had to hit for employees to earn any payout. The CEO was the only employee not eligible for payout since he is the person setting — with the Board — the measured performance levels.
The maximum potential payout was 5% of employee salary but it rarely, if ever got that high.
It used the same 3 factors every year with tougher all-time record results required each year to get any payout:
- Customer satisfaction (measured by independent polling)
- Workplace safety, measured by OSHA numbers.
- Employee and asset productivity, measured with statistics modeled in large part on a famous business management book
Performance targets were set for productivity and safety improvements, so that cost savings from better performance more than funded any payouts
The plan was changed by current CEO Aaron Zahn and it has been soundly criticized.
General Counsel Jason Gabriel advised the JEA to drop the Zahn plan because it was on shaky legal ground.
Council Auditor Kyle Billy said the plan could cost JEA up to $636.6 million if the utility was sold to a private company.
The City Council voted unanimously to recommend the JEA scrap the plan and Zahn said it would.
One council member is demanding Zahn’s resignation.
That certainly seems in order, as does resignation of the entire JEA board, which seems to have provided little oversight.
If Mayor Lenny Curry wants to restore confidence in his plan to sell the JEA – a plan that must be approved by voters in order to take place – he would seek that outcome.