Jacksonville voters are a step closer to deciding whether to extend a sales tax for the sake of reducing pension debt.
At the request of Mayor Lenny Curry, City Council President Greg Anderson has filed a bill that would put the question on the August 30 primary ballot.
The question to appear on the ballot is just one paragraph long, but its intended effect is huge:
1. Freeing the city from debt to be able to spend on other things and
2. Stopping at least one of three public pension plans from accepting new employees.
The city is paying a fifth of its operating budget for pensions every year. If a majority of voters agree, the current 7 percent sales tax rate would be extended until the year 2060 or as soon as the pension funds are actuarially sound.
The tax extension will go into effect only when at least one collective bargaining union agrees to close its pension fund to new employees, and employees remaining in the plans agree to pay in at least 10 percent of their salaries.
The three funds are for police and firefighters, corrections officers and general employees.