How much will former JEA CEO Zahn get in contract settlement? No answer yet

JEA Board of Directors voted to terminate the contract of Aaron Zahn on Dec. 17

Monday was the deadline for the JEA board to decide what will happen with ousted CEO Aaron Zahn. Will he be paid hundreds of thousands even though he was let go? And with the CFO being fired last Friday and a sale off the table, what is next for the troubled utility?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As of Monday, Jacksonville City attorneys and the JEA Board of Directors had not yet reached an agreement on what former CEO Aaron Zahn will walk away with as a settlement from his contract with the city-owned utility.

“As of close of business today, no agreement has been reached with Aaron Zahn,” JEA spokeswoman Gina Kyle said in an email to media shortly before 7 p.m. “He remains on administrative leave until further action has been taken by the JEA Board of Directors.”

Monday was the deadline set by the JEA board for Zahn to either accept or reject their proposal to end his contract. Details of that investigation or proposal have not been announced.

More and more is being revealed about the involvement of JEA’s top management in sales talks and a scraped controversial bonus plan that could have landed management hundreds of millions of dollars.

City Council President Scott Wilson is looking to impanel a special City Council committee to investigate exactly what happened and what went wrong with JEA while it explored a possible sale. Wilson told News4Jax that what the council would look into still has to be decided.

“Those are all conversations I want to have with the office of General Counsel so I make sure I understand exactly what we are doing and why,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he has not talked to State Attorney Melissa Nelson who in a statement said her office has been looking into JEA.

City Councilmember Rory Diamond, a former federal prosecutor, said he would be interested in heading up that special committee. Diamond was instrumental in bringing to light many of JEA’s problems during a special meeting he held two weeks ago that looking into the controversial bonus plan. Some credit that meeting as being the final straw for Zahn which led to his departure and the resignation and firing of other top JEA brass.

“I don’t think having a bunch of people leaving fixes the problem," Diamond said.

Diamond said there are still people there who knew about what he called an outrageous bonus scheme.

“I think they have to go.“ Diamond said.

As for the committee, Diamond said they need to know for sure what happened.

News4Jax asked Diamond if he would trust a grand jury investigation.

“Well the thing about grand jury investigations whether it’s the state or federal is they are secret,” Diamond said.

But, he said, if the City Council were to investigate it would be out in the public.

News4Jax has reached out to Nelson for comment. We also reached out to Mayor Lenny Curry and his staff said he will be out of town until the end of the week.

About the Author:

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