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Jacksonville Police, Firefighters Unhappy With City Council’s Pension Reform Plan

Lindsey Kilbride

About a dozen Jacksonville police officers and firefighters voiced their thoughts about the city’s new pension plan at a public hearing Thursday afternoon.

The public-safety employees are not happy with the deal.

The public hearing was the final step before the Police and Fire Pension Board votes on the new plan Friday morning.

Earlier this month, Jacksonville City Council passed the pension bill after years of negotiation. The city will have to pay about $350 million over the next 13 years, and police officers and firefighters will face benefit cuts.

Cecil Hoskins says he’s been a firefighter-paramedic for 25 years, and the pension deal won’t affect his paycheck, but he still doesn’t want the board to vote yes because newer hires and the city would suffer.

“They’ve wasted our money, they’ve wasted your money, they have not paid our pension,” Hoskins said. “Shared sacrifice means they do what’s right, they fund it properly.”

Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News
Michael Taylor, a sergeant with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, talks to other officers after speaking at the Police and Fire Pension hearing.

Michael Taylor is a sergeant with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He’s says he’s been shot twice during his 16 years on duty, and he deserves what he’s been promised.

Taylor said, “A lot of people work all their life like me, [some] 25 years. They want to put in and retire. They don’t expect to have to work again, and unfortunately with this going on, that’s what’s going to happen.”

John Keane is Executive Director of the Police and Fire Pension Fund. He says hearing the emotional stories is tough, but he doesn’t see any more room to negotiate.

“This work product that the board’s going to vote on tomorrow was the very best that we could come up with,” Keane said.

The Pension Board of Trustees will vote on the new plan at a meeting that starts Friday morning at 9.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.