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Jax Civic Council Chair: Tax Hike To Pay For Pension Debt 'Likely'

The Haskell Company

As the city's Retirement Reform Task Force looks at options for reducing Jacksonville's $1.7 billion unfunded pension liability, one business leader is giving his take. Steven T. Halverson is the CEO of the Haskell Company and also chairs the Jacksonville Civic Council.

"You know the old saying, if you're in a hole, stop digging," said Halverson, telling First Coast Connect listeners he believes a potential tax hike to pay down the pension debt is "likely." 

"The task force has done a good job, as has the mayor, in finding ways to reduce the flow of costs going forward," he said. "In the end it's going to require new money and I applaud them for facing up to that."

"There just isn't any free money.  It's going to have to come from someplace- from all of us. And it needs to be a progressive tax, that affects high-income people more than low-income people."

Mayor Alvin Brown is opposed to any tax increases, and has proposed other options, such as asking JEA to shoulder some $40 million of the pension costs. 

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax.

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.