Community Engagement

JEA board votes to terminate former CEO Zahn with cause

The Board of Directors of Jacksonville, Fla.-based public power utility JEA on Jan. 28 voted to terminate Aaron Zahn’s employment with cause.

The move means that Zahn, who previously served as CEO and Managing Director of JEA, will not be entitled to receive approximately $843,000 in severance pay.

At the board meeting, an official from the Jacksonville Office of General Counsel (OGC) said that over the last six weeks, a team of OGC attorneys and staff, with assistance from the city’s inspector general and staff, conducted more than 30 witness interviews and reviewed thousands of documents and emails.

“After careful consideration of the witness testimony and documents reviewed, OGC has concluded that evidence does exist to support the termination of Mr. Zahn’s employment for cause,” the OGC official said.

At the end of the meeting, April Green, the board’s chairman, announced that she would be resigning from the board.

But following the board meeting, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said that he had asked all board members, including Green, to continue to serve until the end of February, and all agreed.

“Moving forward, I will work with City Council to identify and appoint a new executive Board of Directors as soon as possible,” Curry said. “Understanding that among their first orders of business will be rebuilding public trust and strengthening the future of this vital and valued community asset.”

Board voted to remove Zahn in December

The JEA board on Dec. 17 voted to remove Zahn as CEO and Managing Director of JEA and named Melissa Dykes as JEA’s Interim Managing Director and CEO. Dykes also serves as President and Chief Operating Officer at JEA.

At that meeting, the board also voted to place Zahn on paid administrative leave indefinitely.

JEA board recently canceled process tied to potential privatization of utility

The JEA board on Dec. 24 voted to cancel an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) related to the potential privatization of the utility, as well as reject all replies submitted in response to the ITN.

The vote occurred after Curry asked Green to end the ITN process.

JEA received 16 bids in response to the ITN, which was issued during the summer of 2019.