Inspector general report recommends 13 changes to JEA policies, procedures

Investigators looked at 900+ transactions, found more than half did not comply with JEA policies & procedures

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In an audit report released Friday, Jacksonville’s inspector general criticizes JEA’s former leaders for overspending.

It brings Aaron Zahn into the spotlight again. It’s been years since JEA’s controversial CEO left his position.

His short tenure is one of the most explosive in local history.

In the report that came out Friday afternoon, Jacksonville’s interim inspector general delivered findings of an audit on JEA spending from April 2018 to December 2019 -- during Zahn’s term as chief executive.

He was fired over a proposal to privatize services and sell the city-owned utility. JEA’s lawsuit against Zahn called it a swindle attempt and a huge public scandal.

The report released Friday focuses on Zahn and members of his senior leadership team.

It identifies red flags with travel, drinks and an “escape room” event – all in violation of JEA policy.

The audit examines how corporate purchasing cards were used.

Investigators looked at more than 900 transactions and found that more than half did not comply with JEA policies and procedures.

That spending, along with questionable reimbursements, totaled more than $134,000.

Among the issues were charges for offsite team meetings, alcoholic drinks at team lunches and out-of-town travel, where the charges were either not allowed at all or weren’t properly documented and approved.

The inspector general recommended that JEA make 13 different changes to its policies and procedures.

JEA said some of the changes have already been made – and others are in progress. It said all the changes will be made by March 15.

News4JAX requested comment from Zahn’s attorneys. A response was not returned by publication of the article.

In the past, they have claimed reports are “riddled with false statements, half-truths and misleading inferences.”

In its response to the inspector general, JEA noted that the audit report concerned the former CEO and former senior leadership team – and that JEA now has all new leadership.

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.