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Politics

First Coast Connect: Bishop, Joost Say Curry’s Pension Plan Burdens Future Generations

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Kevin Meerschaert
/
WJCT
Opponents of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry's 1/2 cent sales tax extension to pay the city's $2.5 billion police and fire pension debt want to instead use other options.

Saying Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s pension plan “kicks the can” down the road, former City Council presidents Bill Bishop and Stephen Joost are urging residents vote “no” in Tuesday’s election.

Appearing Wednesday on WJCT’s First Coast Connect, Joost and Bishop said Curry’s plan offers no immediate help and makes many assumptions regarding the city’s future economy that may not become reality.

“All of the plans and all of the studies that have been done over the years — and there’s been many — have said the only real way to fix this problem is to put money into the system now,” Bishop said. “Even the mayor’s own people say this isn’t the best solution but they are saying it’s the only solution.”

Bishop and Joost say it isn’t the only solution and other possibilities need to be considered.

One would be to increase the property tax rate one dollar for every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.

Joost said that would place the burden of the $2.8 billion pension debt on those who should be paying for it instead of future generations. He said it would also save tax dollars in the long run.

“This (Curry’s) plan adds $1.5 billion onto the tax bill. It doesn’t reduce it,” 

Joost said. “Every plan we (the previous City Council) looked at actually reduced the liability. This increases it. The liability is $2.8 billion dollars. This increases it by 50 percent.”   

The Mayor’s plan would extend the ½ cent sales tax set to expire in 2030 to be earmarked to pay the pension liability.   

Producer Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at kmeerschaert@wjct.org, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax