JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JEA Interim Managing Director and CEO Melissa Dykes sent a letter to Jacksonville City Council members Friday asserting that JEA should remain owned by the city.
“Based on all we have learned through the past year, it is my strong belief and will be my recommendation to the JEA Board at our January meeting that JEA best serves the community by remaining owned by the City of Jacksonville,” Dykes said in the email.
Dykes went on to say that the other scenarios in play for JEA — going public with an initial public offering (IPO) or reorganizing as a utility cooperative — were also not in the best interest of the community.
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The JEA Board of Directors shut down a potential sale of the utility, also known as the Invitation to Negotiate (ITN), on Christmas Eve of last year following a host of scandals including the revelation of an employee bonus plan that had the potential to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to JEA leadership at taxpayers’ expense if JEA was sold.
“To ensure we are operating transparently I believe the information should be reviewed openly, not as a path forward but to determine if there are lessons in the work that will help make our government-owned utility even better,” Dykes said. “It is important to take what we have learned from this process and use this information to help inform our thinking as we move forward.”
A day after the State Attorney’s Office announced the federal government will take over the investigation of issues connected to the potential privatization of JEA, Dykes said she welcomes the scrutiny.
Dykes was named interim CEO after Zahn was ousted Dec. 17 but will not seek the permanent CEO job.