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Mayor Curry Strikes Back At Taskforce Report Critical Of Pension Plan

Ryan Benk
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and City Council President Lori Boyer adressing media Monday.

An angry Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry lashed out Monday against news media for reporting on the draft of a Sheriff’s Office task force report, which calls his pension tax plan “insufficient” to solve the city’s financial problems.

The report recommends a property tax hike in addition to Curry’s suggested sales tax extension.

Curry accused the Florida Times-Union of creating the false impression that Sheriff Mike Williams doesn’t support his pension plan and that he does support raising property taxes.

“This in the news cycle, two days before absentee ballots drop. Seems purely political to me so you’re darn right I’m upset about it,” he said.

Williams has since released a statement reiterating that he’s been a “supporter of this plan since day one.” The Resources Task Force, set up by the sheriff to assess the city’s public safety spending, released its draft report over the weekend.

The taskforce blames the city’s relatively low police salaries for Jacksonville’s $3 billion debt, saying officers relied heavily on lavish pension plans because they weren't paid as much as their peers in surrounding counties.

The taskforce supports the sales tax extension and a property tax hike to expand the police force while paying down the pension liability.

But City Council President Lori Boyer said that’s not an option for a city losing residents to surrounding counties with lower tax rates.

“Look at Nassau, Clay and St. Johns and how they are growing so much faster than the city of Jacksonville and what their tax rates are,” she said.

As originally reported by the Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville’s property taxes are some of the lowest in the state for a city of its size. City residents will be able to vote on the sales-tax referendum in the Aug. 30 primary. 

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.