Evaluation: City Could Net As Much As $6.4 Billion From Potential JEA Sale

Feb 14, 2018

If public utility JEA were to be sold, it could net the city of Jacksonville as much as $6.4 billion, according to a final evaluation report released Wednesday.

The sale price was revealed during a contentious city council meeting.

JEA Board Chair Alan Howard clarified before city council members that the report he commissioned late last year was an evaluation report, not a valuation report. The difference? An evaluation report examines the greater market, not just what assets are worth. A draft of the evaluation, which was previously referred to as a valuation report, was released to members of the media a week ago.

Mayor Lenny Curry called the special meeting after Council President Anna Lopez Brosche refused to. But though the city charter gives him the right to summon a meeting, it doesn’t guarantee he’ll be allowed to speak.

Brosche refused to recognize the mayor when he approached. Instead, he talked with reporters outside council chambers.

“The board chairman asked to afford me the opportunity at the meeting that I called to make brief remarks and this is what I would’ve said: ‘This needs to be done in a transparent way. This is information only. There would be no action taken here today,’” Curry said.

Brosche has accused Curry of pushing for emergency legislation regarding a JEA sale.

Curry said contrary to the belief of some JEA employees, he hasn’t decided whether to support privatization. The mayor said he’s reviewing the report, which concludes JEA could be worth between $2.9 and $6.4 billion — a wide range.

“The next steps are process this, talk amongst ourselves, talk with city council. I don't know where we go from here,” he said. “To be clear this is also what I would’ve said in about a minute, a minute and a half, had I been afforded the opportunity, ‘I am not against or for the privatization of the JEA.’”

The author of the report, Michael Mace, told city leaders the wide value range stems from unknowns such as market changes and sale terms and conditions.

Council members anticipate having more public meetings on the subject soon.

Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @RyanMichaelBenk.