Latest: JEA debating sale, but Jacksonville council members say public is being kept out of process

JEA Sale: No chatter from council

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Some Jacksonville City Council members want to have more of a say in the potential sale of JEA.

As a municipal utility, JEA is owned by taxpayers.

The utility is essentially up for sale, and these memos -- memo 1, memo 2, memo 3 --  from the city of Jacksonville's top attorney says council members shouldn't talk specifics to their constituents, to the media or anyone else.

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Many council members tell Action News Jax they can't talk about the potential sale of JEA because they know nothing about it.

Potential bidders have been meeting with JEA for weeks, but the details, including who the bidders are, is being held secret.

Council members say they've had no input in the potential sale of a company that is arguably a huge driver of the economy.

"JEA, doing it the way they're doing it council members will have the ultimate voice into whatever may happen," said Councilman Danny Becton, the council's JEA liaison.

Action News Jax reporter Paige Kelton asked Becton," But wouldn't it be better served to have that voice earlier, instead of at the end of the process?"

"I'm sure there's a lot of different ways that JEA could go about doing this," ​​​​Becton replied.

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Jacksonville's general counsel, Jason Gabriel, argues the City Council will have a say because it has the power to vote down any potential sale, but members like Brenda Priestly Jackson believe the council should be more involved now.

"It is totally not reasonable nor do I think any of my colleague on the council are comfortable with something going off of this magnitude, and us not having a voice for six to eight months. I don't think anybody got elected to be silenced for that length of time," Jackson said.

City Council President Scott Wilson said Monday that the council will move forward and hire an outside counsel to guide them through the legislative process.

The city's general counsel offered to help facilitate.

Oct. 7 is the deadline for companies bidding on JEA, all or in part, to qualify for the process.

In other words, they must prove they're serious and have the finances to act on the offer.