JEA board approves $560,000 annual salary for interim CEO amid questions over appointment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Despite some questions about why and how a new temporary JEA CEO was selected, the JEA board of directors made it official on Tuesday and hired Vickie Cavey as CEO and interim CEO at a salary of more than half million dollars a year.

His hiring follows troubled years for the utility, starting with a former CEO, Aaron Zahn, who was convicted of fraud and conspiracy and his replacement, Jay Stowe, leaving after News4JAX investigated questionable hiring of top officials. executives who lived out of state.

And Cavey’s tenure hasn’t exactly gotten off to a good start.

After running JEA for weeks without a contract, Cavey’s new salary ($560,000 annually) is raising eyebrows.

And during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, concerned union members questioned how Cavey was appointed without any public input.

Stowe resigned in April during a board meeting, and at that same meeting, the board decided that Cavey, who had been working as Stowe’s special assistant, would be interim CEO. The appointment took some by surprise.

“Not knowing what is coming, that everything has happened, apparently in the dark, only she appears ready to accept it and none of us knows what would happen beforehand. There are a lot of things we would say, the PTSD from the last situation comes back,” Jason Baber said.

After Tuesday’s meeting, JEA board Chairman Joseph DiSalvo and Cavey were also asked about a report that said the Jacksonville Office of Inspector General is investigating JEA’s hiring of Cavey in amid potential violations of the Sunshine Law, which requires public disclosure of government meetings and records.

Both said they were not aware of an investigation.

News4JAX asked Cavey about her new salary and she responded after trying to defer to DiSalvo.

“The board president said that’s the going rate for the position nationwide,” Cavey said.

At the time of her departure, Stowe was earning more than $669,000 a year.

Cavey is no stranger to JEA; She had come out of retirement several times after working for the utility company for 32 years. And although it is only a temporary job, she did talk about her goals.

“What do I hope to establish? Align JEA’s culture with that of municipal utilities, keep our costs under control as much as we can, make sure our capital spending and our own spending are within appropriate limits,” Cavey said.

As for a permanent CEO, that may not happen for some time. The search may not begin until next year.

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