Judge Voids Existing Jacksonville Police, Fire Pension Plan

Mar 26, 2015

Judge Beverly rules negotiations violated Florida's Sunshine Law
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As city leaders wrangle over a new agreement for retired police and firefighters, a judge has ruled the existing 30-year plan was negotiated in violation of Florida's Sunshine Law.

Judge Thomas Beverly signed the order Tuesday voiding the current 30-year agreement approved by City Council in 2001.

The legal challenge was filed against the city of Jacksonville and the Police and Fire Pension Fund by Curt Lee and the Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County after Mayor Alvin Brown's first agreement with the pension fund was found to be in violation because it was negotiated behind closed doors.

While Beverly's order voids the current agreement, he added that existing pension benefits and terms remain in effect under the "status quo" doctrine.

"Current levels of public employee benefits cannot be changed until they are collectively bargained differently, or the public employer determines new benefits with the acquiescence of the bargaining agents," Beverly wrote.

Judge enjoyed the city and pension fund's board of trustees from negotiating any future pension benefits "without reasonable notice to the public, the taking of minutes of such meetings, opening such meetings to the public, and otherwise complying with Section 447.605(2) and Section 286.11, Florida Statutes."

This comes as City Council denied approving a modified pension agreement in a 9-9 tie vote, which means the mayor's office and the Police and Fire Pension Fund must negotiate a new agreement.

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