- The JEA board unanimously voted on Dec. 24 to reject nine bids to purchase the municipal utility in Florida.
- Jacksonville Mayor Leonard Curry had asked the board to end its negotiation process, announcing Dec. 23 that he would ask the JEA board chair to take the sale off the table. City Councilman Matt Carlucci warned the board Dec. 20 that the city could be opened up "to serious lawsuits" if the council tried to stop the privatization process.
- The six member board terminated CEO Aaron Zahn, the executive who had led the buyout effort, after placing him on administrative leave on Dec. 17. The Board appointed Melissa Dykes, JEA president and chief operating officer, as Interim CEO.
Curry asked the JEA board to release information to the Jacksonville council on plans to sell the city-owned utility or to convert it to a co-op or into a freestanding public company through an initial public offering. Carlucci also asked for an independent investigation of JEA's negotiation process by the state attorney or a grand jury.
The board had formally agreed to invite bidders for a potential purchase on Aug. 2. Dykes estimated the city spent nearly $10 million on the potential sale so far, which has become controversial.
"It is clear to me millions of dollars of contracts have been moved around," Carlucci tweeted on Dec. 21. "No one knows if any process was followed."
Negotiations were set to begin on Oct. 15 for bids ranging from $6.8 billion to $7.3 billion for the water and electric utility, according to the Florida Times-Union. JEA valued its assets at $5.4 billion, according to its solicitation.
Citing lack of transparency, Curry said in November that "people are not comfortable with the process" through which JEA's board explored a sale.
"While I firmly believe the [Invitation to Negotiate] process began for the right reasons... the way the process was conducted has resulted in a loss of trust by the stakeholders we serve," Dykes said in a statement.
Following a board proposal by Board Member Henry Brown, Dykes made all information related to the potential privatization of the utility publicly available, including the 16 bids received.
Prior to her current role, Dykes served as Chief Financial Officer to JEA for almost six years.
Zahn's contract settlement is still up in the air.
The Florida Times-Union reported an executive compensation plan for C-suite members of JEA, rewarding outgoing executives with up to $600 million of sale proceeds besides giving the top three members could get up to one year of post-employment consulting fees.
However, the executive board for the municipal utility remains in flux: Dykes terminated via email CFO Ryan Wannemacher without cause on Dec. 27, according to the Jacksonville Daily Record. Chief Government Affairs Officer Sherry Hall and Chief Legal Officer Lynne Rhode also resigned.