JEA meeting on potential sale ends with CEO denying any agenda

Jacksonville City Council members still skeptical of process

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After yet another meeting about the potential sale of JEA to a private utility, the chief executive of the city-owned electric and water/sewer provider wanted to make it clear one more time: He’s not had discussions or special meetings with the mayor and his staff about selling the utility.

JEA board members met for several hours at a special workshop Tuesday afternoon on the pros and cons of the city selling the utility. The board said this is the first time they publicly discussed the possibility of sale and CEO Paul McElroy said no one is pushing the sale.

"In terms of pulling strings and behind all of this, those are words that are not in my vocabulary," McElroy said. "When (former chairman Tom) Petway raised this issue at our meeting, the chair and I discussed it. We met with the administration. We came (to the decision) the best approach was to engage an expert."

New board chairman Alan Howard stressed that electric companies are not making as much money as they did in the past. 

"Who knows what the future holds for JEA? We heard a lot today about changing industry trends," Howard said.

POWERPOINT: Materials reviewed by JEA board Tuesday

The board made no decision and will meet again on the topic. The decision to sell the utility is not up to them, but to City Council.

Several council members were in the audience at the meeting, and many still believe someone at the mayor's office is behind the idea to sell JEA, but no one likes to say that out loud.

"Well, if they’re saying it didn’t come from them, well, I think that’s a very strong possibility," Councilman John Crescimbeni said. "The public probably has a good idea where that came from.

No one from the mayor's office was at Tuesday's meeting.

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