JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville's most prominent business leader weighed in Thursday on whether the city should be considering the much-debated potential sale of JEA.
Shad Khan said privatizing the city-owned utility "is a terrible idea."
“I've seen this all over the country, when you have something of, really, a public entity like that getting privatized, it doesn't work well for the residents,” Khan said during interviews after his organization's annual State of the Franchise presentation. “Nobody's asked me, but I think it ought to stay the way it is.”
Khan's position was interesting because there had been speculation that developments he has a stake in could benefit from the billions of dollars the city could get from selling the utility.
An online poll that came out earlier this month showed the public agrees with Khan and is not happy with the idea of selling JEA.
The debate over Jacksonville’s public utility has caused a huge rift in city government and mistrust between the City Council president and mayor.
JEA CEO Paul McElroy stepped down because of the flak being created over the debate.
The JEA board elected a new interim CEO this week, appointing Aaron Zahn to the role.
The poll that showed displeasure on the JEA sale was conducted by City Councilman Danny Becton in his Southside district. It showed 76 percent of those responding were opposed to the sale, while 14 percent favored it. Ten percent of those responding said maybe. For them, it would depend on the amount of money the city could gain from a sale.
Former mayor Jake Godbold has also offered his take, saying the city has "botched" exploration of the JEA sale.