JEA board to discuss possible bonus for CEO

City-owned utility took heat for missing goal for restoration after Matthew

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JEA board members will decide whether the city-owned utility's CEO will get a large bonus as part of his contract. 

The board's agenda includes holding a vote to decide whether to give the bonus to JEA CEO Paul McElroy, who came under fire last month for not being in town during Hurricane Matthew and for the utility failing to meet its self-imposed deadline to restore power to all customers. 

For McElroy to receive the bonus, he must meet strategic goals, according to documents obtained Thursday by News4Jax. If he meets those goals, McElroy can get a bonus of up to 15 percent of his base pay, which would be $65,000.

The board is expected to evaluate McElroy during meeting before voting. This bonus is related to his performance in fiscal year 2016, which was from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016, which is just days before Hurricane Matthew impact Northeast Jacksonville. 

The compensation committee has recommended a $55,000 bonus -- 12.63 percent of his base salary of more than $437,000 a year.

McElroy left Jacksonville the day before Hurricane Matthew hit and did not returning until the following Monday. During that time, more than 225,000 JEA customers lost power.

While he was out of town to attend his daughter's wedding, McElroy managed the utility's response to Hurricane Matthew by staying in contact with the board, spending more than 9½ hours on the phone before and after the storm, according to records obtained by the News4Jax I-TEAM. 

I-TEAM: How CEO managed JEA's storm response while out of town

McElroy has taken responsibility for the problems that JEA experienced as a result of the storm, including the broken promise of restoring power to all customers in just a few days and millions of gallons of raw sewage that spilled when backup generators failed at pump stations. 

Customers who lost power during the storm expressed mixed feelings about McElroy's possible bonus. 

David Johnson said the bonus is not out the question. Despite his neighborhood being without power for days after the storm, Johnson said JEA did OK. 

"Actually, I don't have a problem with it because they were more proactive this time than previously. And we were without power for a couple of days in this neighborhood. We're always one of the first without power," Johnson said. "But with the damage that was around here, 2½ days is not out of the question."

Other customers told News4Jax that now is not the time to give out bonuses to McElroy or other staff. They said the linemen who worked outside after the Category 2 storm passed by the northeast Florida coast did a great job; they fault the management for setting unrealistic goals to get power restored. 

During the meeting, board members will also be discussing whether other management staff, beside McElroy, will receive bonuses as well.

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