Mayor Lenny Curry is changing course on the JEA sale, after receiving a polite but pointed letter from the Jacksonville Civic Council.
The civic council’s JEA Subcommittee, consisting of Michael Ward, Bobby Stein and Jeanne Miller, asked Curry to switch from the invitation to negotiate process currently being used by the JEA to a more conventional request for proposals.
The latter would make the bidding process more open to public scrutiny.
“It appears that JEA is utilizing the ITN process to circumvent transparency requirements,” the council letter said.
Also, the council asked Curry to find out why the current process was chosen over other ways to proceed.
In addition, the council is asking for a thorough review of the performance pay plan that the JEA approved in July – its origin, how it was vetted for legality and how it was approved by the board. It also wants this to be done even if the JEA drops the plan, as CEO Aaron Zahn has said it would.
Lastly, the council asked for a definition of the city’s long-term revenue needs and a study of possible additional funding sources.
This appears to be in reference to Curry’s talk about how the proceeds of a sale could be used to benefit the city.
The council letter was sent Dec. 12. The same day, Curry wrote to board members asking them to involve the City Council more in the process. He said the issues is widely misunderstood in the community.
He suggested meetings and hearings with council members and the public.
Curry asked the JEA also to consider a sixth option for its future, in addition to the five it is exploring. That would be to return the electric utility to city control, as a department of the government, as it was before JEA was created some 50 years ago.
Curry wants the final decision of what to put before the voters to be made by the City Council.
He did not address the civic council’s requests in his letter to the JEA.