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Jacksonville Pension Experts Mull Consolidation

Ryan Benk

Jacksonville’s Downtown Rotary Club discussed pension reform options today Monday with City Council President Greg Anderson.

A panel of experts weighed consolidating the city’s three pension funds and the possibility the city could take control of the fund with the most debt.  

The Police and Firefighter Pension fund represents one of the city’s largest unfunded liabilities.

It’s also the only city pension fund run by an independent board.

Rotary Club panel moderator Howard Kelley asked City Council President Greg Anderson why.

“So how does the Police/Fire Pension Fund and the pension fund of the general employees and corrections officers, what’s the difference?” Kelly asked.  “You’ve taken away the one big difference out there. What’s the difference?”

Until last year, the Police and Fire Pension board was also the only one of the three that could bargain for benefits. Corrections officers and city employees had to bargain strictly through unions.

Kelley also asked why the city doesn’t combine the three funds. Anderson said the priority is stopping the fund’s bleeding.

“Keep in mind they’re different unions and I understand you could do that, but the real urgency wasn’t linking those, the urgency was reforming the fund,” Anderson said.

But Mayor Lenny Curry’s Chief of Staff told the Florida Times-Union recently all options are on the table. That’s after it was reported the city’s General Employee and Corrections Officers retirement plans are also grossly underfunded. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.