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Jacksonville Firefighters, Police Reach Tentative Pension Deal With City

Ryan Benk

The Fraternal Order of Police and the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters agreed to a tentative deal Saturday to reform the city's pension system.

During a Jan. 11 collective bargaining session on wages and pensions, Mayor Lenny Curry told the Fraternal Order of Police and Jacksonville Association of Firefighters they had 30 days to take or leave his current proposal.

Duval County voters approved a new, half-cent sales tax to begin in 2030 to pay off Jacksonville's $2.7 billion pension deficit, but it couldn't go into effect until the city and its unions reached an agreement to close existing pension plans.

The firefighters' union released the following statement:

“Our main purpose and goal is the safety and security of Jacksonville's Firefighters and their families. The JAF has negotiated faithfully and openly a tentative contract that has been long overdue for existing employees.”

Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police president Steve Zona issued the following statement:

“When I chose to run for president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5-30 I committed I would be transparent and include the members in decision making. After much deliberation, I feel negotiations have brought us to a point where the voice of the body needs to be heard by way of a vote on the current proposal offered by the city,” Zona wrote.

Curry issued the following statement:

“This represents another step toward solving Jacksonville's pension crisis once and for all in a way that is good for taxpayers, first responders, and the future of our city. I want to thank the union leadership for working with me and reaching this historic agreement. I look forward to next steps with union membership,” he said.

While the deal has not been finalized, emergency officials said the agreement is a step toward making sure their safety and security is a priority.

Highlights from the new agreement:

·         3 percent bonus

·         20 percent pay raise over three years

·         Restoration of benefits cut over the past decade

·         Employee contributions rise from 8 percent to 10 percent

·         401(k) with up to 25 percent match from the city for new hires

Both unions’ membership must now vote to approve the tentative deal.