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The Strategic Role of Treasury within Utility Authorities with Randall Barnes

Where Public Finance Works

Episode 14 Show Notes

“As treasurers, we need to know the entire business. Not just the financial piece of it. We need to know what we're doing from an operations and capital standpoint to make sure that we're providing service to our customers the way that we need to.”

- Randall Barnes, Treasurer at JEA

Episode Summary

In this episode of Where Public Finance Works, we explore the dynamic operations at JEA with Randall Barnes, the Treasurer who has been steering the financial helm since August 2022. Randall's journey from a small town in East Tennessee to managing billions in Jacksonville’s public utilities is a testament to his dedication and expertise in the public finance sector.

Host Tyler Traudt breaks down Randall’s role, from overseeing debt management and cash forecasting to maintaining strong relationships with rating agencies. Randall shares insights into JEA’s financial strategies, including the complexities of electricity generation and distribution, hedging gas prices, and ensuring operational efficiency. He speaks on the importance of simplicity in financial planning and the critical role of process improvements and staff education in achieving long-term strategic goals.

Listeners will gain an understanding of how JEA operates as a community-owned utility, balancing the need to provide reliable and affordable services while supporting economic growth in Jacksonville. Randall also highlights the significant efforts made during the COVID-19 pandemic to support the local community, including innovative financial programs and robust disaster preparedness plans for hurricane season.

Join us for an inside look at how Randall and his team at JEA navigate the challenges of public finance, making a meaningful impact on the community they serve.

Featured Guest

Randall Barnes is the Treasurer at JEA. His extensive career began with an MBA in Management Information Systems and a B.S. in Marketing from Tennessee Technological University.

Randall’s career includes over 16 years at the Tennessee Valley Authority, where he held positions such as Senior Program Manager for Corporate Investments and Finance, and Senior Securities Analyst. In 2015, he joined the City of Jacksonville as Senior Debt Manager and later advanced to Assistant Treasurer and Treasurer.

Since August 2022, Randall has served as the Treasurer at JEA in Jacksonville, Florida. He oversees an array of financial functions, including treasury operations, debt management, investments, rating agency communications, cash forecasting, and more.

Top Takeaways From Episode 14

(1) Adaptation and Innovation: Randall discusses the need for flexibility in energy generation and procurement, adapting strategies based on geographic and economic factors. He highlights JEA’s balanced approach to generating and purchasing electricity to meet community needs effectively.

(2) Educational and Professional Development: Randall highlights the importance of continuous education and professional development for his team. By encouraging team members to pursue training and think creatively, he aims to foster a culture of strategic thinking and process improvement, ultimately enhancing the overall efficiency and effectiveness of JEA's financial operations.

(3) Disaster Preparedness and Response: JEA's robust hurricane preparedness plans and innovative financial solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic illustrate Randall's commitment to community resilience. His leadership ensured efficient distribution of funds and rapid recovery, positioning Jacksonville as a model for other cities in disaster response and economic recovery.


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