Mayor Curry Celebrates Decisive 'Yes' Vote On Pension Tax

Aug 30, 2016

Curry stands beside city workers at a recent press conference announcing their support for Referendum 1.
Credit Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

Duval County voters delivered Mayor Lenny Curry a decisive victory Tuesday on one of his biggest priorities: extending a half-penny sales tax to help pay down pension debt.

Curry thanked supporters of his Yes for Jacksonville campaign last night at the downtown Hyatt hotel.

“This may be one of the most important votes that we have faced since we have been a consolidated city,” Curry said. “We were on the precipice of financial crisis, pension costs that were breaking our backs. And I committed that I would govern and lead aggressively on the biggest issues of our day, and that is what tonight represents.”

More than 65 percent of voters agreed to extend the sales tax starting in the year 2031, but it's not a done deal. Before it goes into effect, at least one of three city pension funds will have to close to new members, and current public employees will have to agree to pay a tenth of their salaries toward their pensions. Nearly 10 unions representing city employees will soon start negotiating the terms of the pension fund closures.

And a lawsuit against the pension referendum ballot language is proceeding in court. If a judge determines its wording was misleading and confusing, as the group Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County claims, then Tuesday's vote result could be thrown out.