Mayor Lenny Curry answers your questions about JEA sale

Jacksonville mayor sits down with The Morning Show to talk about your concerns

By Francine Frazier - Senior web producer

Mayor Lenny Curry stopped by "The Morning Show" on Wednesday for another question and answer session about the latest topics affecting Jacksonville.

Jennifer Waugh asked him about an overnight attack on two city firefighters and the City Council's decision late Tuesday to move up a deadline for adult arcades to shut down.

She also asked him several viewer questions submitted through 4 Your Info about the potential sale of JEA, the city-owned utility.

We've included some of his answers below. To see all his responses, watch the full interview by pressing the play button above.

Question submitted by Larry: After you handpicked the JEA Board, don't you feel responsible for the imminent sale of JEA?

Curry: JEA can't be sold without the public saying yes or no. This will ultimately go to a vote of the people of Jacksonville. In the event it gets to that -- which we don't know, this is an exploration -- the people, the public of Jacksonville will make the decision. If they say no, it's a no go. I will say that if people look over the last 10 years, JEA rates have gone up 71%. Workforce has been reduced by 16%. So there's been this slow but drastic increase in rates and erosion of employees. So it's incumbent upon them to look at their strategic plan and figure out how they are going to be able to sustain the future. This is part of that exploration if they decide to move forward. Go to City Council, and City Council agrees and then I agree, it will ultimately -- People need to just slow down and hear this. They will get to make the decision.

Question submitted by George: Are you worried that after three years, electric rates will go up and service will decline after the sale of JEA?

Curry: Well I think if a deal gets to the City Council and then to the public, we will vet that and make sure that deal has assurances in place that protects rate payers, that protects the people of Jacksonville. If we deem they don't, then we'll say no. And by the way, if the public deems they don't, the public will vote no. In the end, the people of Jacksonville will have the final say in this if it gets to that point. 

Question submitted by Anonymous: Assuming JEA is sold... What guarantee can you provide that a private operator won't wait out whatever temporary retention agreements and rate promises and, in a few years' time, both lay people off and jack up rates?

Curry: Those assurances will have to be in a deal if it's negotiated. If those assurances aren't there and we can't get comfortable with it, then I would expect everyone would say no. 

Copyright 2019 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.