Investigates: JEA defending large pay raises for executives, some of whom live out of the area

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — JEA is defending itself after Action News Jax Investigates learned the utility handed out significant pay raises to many of its executives, including some of whom live out of the area.

As Action News Jax’s Ben Becker reports, this comes as you are paying more for services.


Action News Jax obtained a breakdown of big salary increases for 23 JEA executives – including 16 vice presidents and seven chiefs.

CEO Jay Stowe’s salary is jumping from about $594,000 to $669,000, which is a 12.3% increase.

But, that salary pales in comparison to Chief External Affairs Officer Laura Schepis and Chief Strategy Officer Laura Dutton. Both went from about $310,000 to $383,000, which is a whopping 23.5% increase.

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Action News Jax has also learned four top executives live out of the area.


  • Chief Strategy Officer Laura Dutton | Tennessee


  • VP, People & Culture Helen Materazzi | New Jersey
  • VP, Planning, Engineering & Construction Pedro Melendez | Stuart, Fla.
  • VP, Economic Development Paul Mitchell | Port Orange, Fla.

Read: JEA board proposing 5-year, $3.7M contract for CEO as utility considers raising base rates

JEA released the following statement:

“More than 700 (30 to 35%) JEA employees are eligible for our Work from Wherever We Work Best policy. This allows employees to work, as least part of the time, at an alternative location other than their assigned location. This policy is consistent with evolving market business practices and creates more opportunities for JEA to remain a competitive employer of choice in attracting and retaining high quality and diverse talent.

“Of 2,226 total employees, 26 primarily live outside the state of Florida and work in a hybrid/remote work arrangement.”

Action News Jax first told you JEA customers have faced steady rate increases for the past few years. Stowe has even told the board that residential base rates could increase 3.5% annually through 2034, meaning up to a 50% spike in your bill next decade.

Read: JEA board approves tripling base monthly charge

JEA sent Action News Jax a statement that reads in part:

“Ensuring stability by retaining the most talented and skilled leadership team is important to JEA, our board and our customers. As a community-owned utility that is accountable to the people we serve, we are extremely mindful of cost of operations and how they can impact customers.”

As for the rank and file employees, JEA said that on average, they’re receiving 8.3% salary increases.

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