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Mayor Alvin Brown To City Council: 'Pass Pension Reform Or Face Catastrophic Budget Cuts'

Kevin Meerschaert

Mayor Alvin Brown's proposed budget would close six libraries, three fire stations, half the city's pools and three-quarters of the community centers. Hundreds of employees would be laid off.

But the Mayor says most of the cuts could be avoided if his pension reform plan is approved by the City Council.

Part of the pension deal with the Police and Fire Pension Board of Trustees reduces the city's pension obligation for this year by $46 million.   

Brown presented his yearly budget address to the city council on Monday.

"I don't want to make these cuts. You don't want to make these cuts," he told the Council. "They are not acceptable for the long-term good of our city and neighborhoods."

For its part, the City Council says the budget and pension reform are separate issues, and several members aren't happy with a lack of specifics in the budget.

Councilman Richard Clark says there has been a lot of discussion about pension but he doesn't like it being tied to the budget.

"None of us like to operate with a gun to their head," he said after the address.

The task force Mayor Brown appointed to evaluate the pension plan hopes to complete its work by late August. TheCity Council Finance Committee will begin holding budget hearings August 8.

The budget must be finalized by October 1. Mayor Brown has vowed he will veto a budget that includes any tax increases.

Here is video of the Mayor's address:

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.