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Court Voids Police, Fire Pension Fund Agreement

Jacksonville Association of Firefighters

There will be no more legal wrangling over a nullified 30-year pension agreement between the city of Jacksonville and the Police and Fire Pension Fund.

An appeals court Wednesday upheld a decision, voiding the 2001 deal because it was put together behind closed doors in violation of the state’s Sunshine Law. The Pension Fund Board appealed.

It’s a major victory for the watch-dog group Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, which challenged the agreement in 2011. 

"It’s also a huge win for the people of Jacksonville," said John Winkler, the organization’s president.

He added: “It means that we’ve now restored the process that was intended to be, which was that pension benefits — like everything else that affects policemen’s salary or a firefighter’s compensation package — are going to be collectively bargained no less frequently than every three years.”

State law requires collective bargaining agreements to be revisited every three years.

But the ruling does not settle the question of how the city plans to meet its pension obligations. The Police and Fire Pension Fund is currently two billion dollars short, and the debt is growing.

Jacksonville voters will decide whether to extend a half-cent gasoline tax and use the revenues to pay down the pension debt. The measure will appear on the ballot this August.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.