Report on JEA’s finances contradicts ‘doom and gloom’ narrative

‘We are having an even better year this year,’ city councilman says of utility

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A recent report detailing JEA’s finances shows a profitable outlook – not the bleak landscape portrayed by the city-owned utility’s executives as they explored a plan to put it up for sale.

The Quarterly Analysis of Financial Performance report found that JEA’s net position is worth $232 million more this year than it was the same time last year. While those numbers can fluctuate, it’s tough to square them with the unflattering portrait previously painted by the utility’s executives.

“I think the doom and gloom was a bunch of bull,” City Councilman Matt Carlucci, a noted critic of the since-abandoned sales process, told News4Jax. “Not only did we have a banner year last year, we are having an even better year this year.”

DOCUMENT | Read a copy of the JEA financial report

Carlucci, one of the first voices to join the chorus questioning the proposed sale, said a former JEA CEO told him the utility’s new board of directors will be flush with cash that can hopefully be used to keep the utility stable in the years to come.

Among other things, the report shows the electric side of the utility’s operating expenses are down $22 million. JEA’s revenues from its water service are up by $18 million, while expenses have only grown by $3 million.

Though JEA saw $5 million in losses in sales from other areas, its customer base increased by nearly 2 percent

The fallout from the canceled efforts to explore a sale has been wide-ranging. Former CEO Aaron Zahn was fired for cause Jan. 28. The utility has endured an exodus of other leaders, including former CFO Ryan Wannemacher and Chief Legal Officer Lynne Rhode, and its entire board of directors.

Mayor Lenny Curry has named seven executives he’s eyeing as potential replacements on the board, but their appointments are still subject to City Council approval. With the board in limbo, its Feb. 25 board meeting has been canceled.

Adding to the utility’s challenges is a City Council investigation into the proposed sale along with the looming specter of another investigation after State Attorney Melissa Nelson handed over her office’s investigation to federal investigators.

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