JEA Board restores bonus plan for employees

Employee bonus plan put on pause for 2020 added back to budget for 2021


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JEA employees are once again in line for a bonus after the city-owned utility’s board of directors approved a measure Tuesday restoring an incentive plan that was put on pause for 2020.

The new incentive plan, which was approved by the board as part of JEA’s budget request to City Council for the next fiscal year, would exclude the CEO and senior leadership team from receiving the bonuses. The budget must now be approved by the Council.

The payout for bonuses, which are capped at 5% of an employee’s salary, would be between $5 million and $8 million and would not be paid to employees until November and December of 2021.

The bonus structure the old JEA board approved last came under scrutiny because of a separate Performance Unit Plan, or PUP, that would basically have been a stock purchase plan that could have financially benefited executives and others in the event that JEA was sold. The plan and the effort to sell the utility sparked controversy last fall and JEA is now under city and federal investigations.

The ITN, or Invitation to Negotiate, a plan to court potential suitors interested in buying or running all or part of the city-owned utility, was canceled last year in response to public backlash. The Board fired then-CEO Aaron Zahn, who is now being sued by the city of Jacksonville.

The fallout from the controversy surrounding the ITN and PUP has been wide-ranging.

Besides Zahn, it led to the resignation of former Chief Legal Officer Lynne Rhode and the dismissal of former CFO Ryan Wannemacher. In February, JEA’s Board of Directors resigned. In April, the Board’s replacements voted unanimously to remove interim CEO Melissa Dykes, a longtime executive who served as chief operating officer during Zahn’s stint running JEA.

More recently, Chief Administrative Officer Herschel Vinyard was placed on leave last month, and in his first major move since taking charge of JEA, interim Chief Executive Officer Paul McElroy placed the majority of the utility’s leadership team on paid administrative leave in early June.

While on leave, these executives continue to collect big paychecks. Records obtained by the News4Jax I-TEAM show their salaries, including Vinyard’s, range from $184,000 to $350,000 a year. In other words, they’re making $88-$168 an hour to sit on the sidelines.

Employee NameTitleHourly RateBase Salary
Caren AndersVP/GM Energy$141.8$295,000
Deryle CalhounVP/GM Water/Wastewater$105.8$220,000
Shawn EadsVP/Chief Information Officer$132.2$275,000
Jon KendrickChief Human Resource Officer$98.6$205,000
John McCarthyChief Supply Chain Officer$88.7$184,000
Steve McInallVP/Chief Energy/Water Planning$96.2$200,000
Paul SteinbrecherChief Environmental Services Officer$88.7$184,000
Kerri StewartVP/Chief Customer Officer$113.3$235,500
Herschel VinyardChief Administrative Officer$168.3$350,000

The list of suspensions does not include Chief Legal Counsel Jody Brooks, interim Chief Government Affairs Officer Kurtis Wilson and Chief Financial Officer Brian Roche who took over from the interim CFO on Monday, moving the interim, Joseph Orfano, to the utility’s treasury team.

As part of the same move, seven individuals will join the utility’s senior leadership team on a temporary basis:

  • Stephen Datz, Interim Chief Information Officer
  • Bruce Dugan, Interim Chief Communication Officer
  • Ricky Erixton, Interim General Manager, Electric Systems
  • Angie Hiers, Interim Chief Human Resource Officer
  • Alan McElroy (no relation), Interim Chief Supply Chain Officer
  • Hai Vu, Interim General Manager, Water/Wastewater Systems
  • Wayne Young, Chief Environmental Officer

McElroy announced last month that Hiers, along with two others, would be temporary additions to his leadership staff. Other additions include Vickie Cavey, a longtime JEA executive who spearheaded the utility’s strategic planning and development from 2013 until she retired in 2017, and Gerri Boyce, another longtime employee who served as JEA’s spokesperson until her retirement in 2018.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.