I-TEAM: Emails suggest city began looking for potential JEA buyers in December

Rift continues between mayor's office, Jacksonville City Council

JEA board members will discuss the future of the JEA headquarters building on Church Street next week
JEA board members will discuss the future of the JEA headquarters building on Church Street next week

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A trail of emails suggests that Jacksonville city leaders were working on plans to seek a buyer for JEA in December -- long before a final report was issued last week showing what the city-owned utility might be worth, and the pros and cons of a possible sale. 

On Wednesday night, the News4Jax I-TEAM received an email that was sent by the city auditor, who was asking questions about why the city was seeking bids, or a Request for Proposals, to find a company that could act as a go-between for prospective buyers for JEA. 

READ: Council auditor's email | Request for Proposals 

In the email, City Council auditor Kyle Billy asks why the city is taking that approach and not following the normal procedure of seeking bids. He wrote the email to the mayor's staff at the request of City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche.

The mayor's finance director -- along with the mayor's chief administrative officer, Sam Mousa -- has already responded to the auditor and City Council members, saying in an email that the auditor's conclusion is not correct. 

The I-TEAM obtained that email, which reads in part, "For the last 2 years, the Administration has been approached by private equity providers and affiliated  operating companies interested in either monetizing our City public infrastructure or entering into public/private partnerships for new City infrastructures. Infrastructure such as parking garages, airport, seaport, bridges, roadways and various other City public infrastructure have been presented for consideration."

The I-TEAM has made a public-record request to see what items or plans have been discussed about a possible sale by the city.

The emails are the latest development in the rift over the potential sale of JEA, which has created tension between the mayor's office and the City Council. 

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