Jacksonville City Council Gives Final Approval To Mayor’s Pension Plan

Apr 24, 2017

Credit City of Jacksonville

The Jacksonville City Council passed Mayor Lenny Curry’s pension-reform plan Monday.

Though some members admit it isn't a silver bullet for all of the city’s funding problems, all agree it is the best plan they’ve seen because it includes a dedicated funding source — a half-cent sales tax that will cover pension costs after it was set to end in 2030.

In Curry’s closing remarks at the special council meeting, he issued a warning.

“Do not let this be lost on us today. When you solve a problem you want to make sure it never happens again. This is history. We are out of the pension business,” Curry said.

Instead, the city will offer generous contributions to employees’ private retirement plans, along with pay raises and restored benefits. The plan also gives the city the ability to go back to the negotiating table if economic factors change.

Because of that, local Fraternal Order of Police leader Steve Zona said he’s cautiously optimistic.

“There’s no other city in Florida that has 401ks for public safety so the outcome is yet to be determined. We’ll have to watch it,” he said.

The plan defers the bulk of pension debt payments until after the half-cent sales tax kicks in. Opponents of the plan say the plan could cost taxpayers more in the long run.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.