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City Task Force Chair Calls For "Community Conversation" On Pension Reform

Jacksonville attorney Bill Scheu says he's gratified the Pew Charitable Trust has formally accepted the city's proposal to help resolve ongoing fiscal problems related to a huge pension liability. 

"We formally invited them to help us at our meeting last week," says Scheu, who chairs Jacksonville's Retirement Reform Task Force. 

"They have a unique history in pension reform public policy issues around the country. They bring a lot of legal, financial and actuarial analysis to this, so we're very grateful to them."

Scheu says the team from Pew will meet with various community groups, including the task force, and issue its analysis on the situation next month.

Jacksonville's long-term fiscal stability is threatened by a $1.7 billion dollar unfunded pension liability. That's the amount that must be paid out to current and future employees. 

Mayor Alvin Brown's pension reform plan failed to pass the City Council, and other proposals, such as the Civic Council's suggestion to borrow up to $1 billion dollars to fill the gap, have yet to be adopted.

Scheu says a citywide town hall meeting on the pension reform effort is scheduled for November 6th.

"I think there's a lot of community will building now to make this change. We see that this is something we've got to do," he says.

"We want to hear from the community. Anyone who has an idea about pension reform, we hope they'll come, and we'll then share those thoughts with the committee."

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.