Council schedules fact-finding workshops about possible JEA sale

The 14 fact-finding workshops will begin Nov. 6.

City Council member Michael Boylan
City Council member Michael Boylan
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City Council member Michael Boylan said Monday that the first of 14 fact-finding workshops in the Council’s independent inquiry into the possible sale of JEA will be Nov. 6

During a noticed meeting with Council President Scott Wilson on Oct. 8, Boylan said he would form a special committee to hold a series of fact-finding hearings on the ramifications of selling the city-owned utility.

The schedule shows meetings twice per month through June 8. 

Boylan said the workshops will examine JEA’s yearlong strategic planning process and outcomes leading to the release of its invitation to negotiate Aug. 2. 

Sixteen companies responded to the utility’s solicitation, and JEA negotiators are considering bids from nine to buy some or all of the utility’s assets.

JEA’s senior management team says selling to a private company could be the best option to solve a projected decline in energy sales and revenue.

The workshops will examine each scenario presented by JEA leadership to its board of directors, including making no changes to its operations, transitioning into a customer-owned co-op or conducting an initial public offering to become a publicly traded company.

The meetings are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Lynwood Roberts Room at City Hall.

“These fact-finding workshops are not only to educate the City Council members but the community at large,” Boylan said. “I’m not interested in focusing on the ITN but the general background information on all the scenarios and what is the authority of the independent authority.”

Boylan expects JEA officials to attend the meetings and testify to how the strategic planning process unfolded that led to the utility seeking bids for a sale. 

The Council member said he’s been speaking with JEA management and it is supportive of the fact-finding hearings.

“They understand the importance of the third-party review,” Boylan said.

An independent Council investigation into the JEA sale is allowed by Jacksonville’s City Charter.

Section 5.09 states the Council “may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require the production of evidence” to investigate the affairs of the consolidated government.

Boylan has tried to strike a more measured tone with the fact-finding hearings, saying they’re not meant to be adversarial toward JEA or management team.

In an Oct. 21 memorandum to the Council, Wilson praised Boylan for leading the hearings. 

“I know he will govern and oversee these sessions in a fair and impartial manner,” Wilson wrote. “These meetings will be open and available for public view.” 

Special Counsel

By the second meeting, Council will likely have a legal team in place that is independent of the City’s Office of General Counsel to provide members with utility industry-specific advice. 

The Council has set aside $1.85 million to hire special legal counsel to advise members on their role in the potential sale of the city-owned utility. The bill introduced by Council member Garrett Dennis was approved Oct. 22 in a 15-3 vote.

Five firms have submitted applications for Council’s consideration. Boylan expects the Council will select a local law firm as well as subject matter experts “outside of our markets that can help.”

Boylan expects the Council to begin discussion on the candidates for the independent attorneys by its Nov. 12 meeting or as early as the Nov. 5 Council Rules Committee meeting.

“We’ll identify those who can help us on the background of what it means to be a public utility and the consequences or resulting effect of changing that structure,” he said.





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