City Council Shakeup Could Affect Jacksonville Pension Reform

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Jacksonville Councilman Johnny Gaffney is stepping down from his post next month.

Gaffney was likely to vote in favor of the city’s pension reform measure. But with his departure, the chances of the measure passing become murkier.

There are 19 seats on the Council, and the measure needs 10 votes to pass.

From the Florida Union-Tribune:

Because Gaffney ran for the Legislature — unsuccessfully, as it turned out — he must step down from the council next month, making Feb. 10 his last City Council meeting.

There’s no guarantee that the council will be ready by then to cast votes on pension reform, so Gaffney might be off the council before the final decision.

Gaffney’s impending departure is just one of the moving pieces Brown faces as he strives to secure 10 votes on the 19-member council. Some City Council members have already said a counter-offer made last week by the Police and Fire Pension Fund is dead on arrival.

[…]

The pension legislation approved 16-3 by the City Council last month would let City Council impose further benefit cuts on current police and firefighters in three years.

The pension fund’s counter-offer would prevent the council from unilaterally imposing further benefit cuts for 10 years. The pension fund called that a big concession because it shortens the existing agreement running through 2030.

City Councilman Bill Gulliford said that, in his view, three years is the maximum term for benefits allowed by state law, so it’s a non-starter for him to approve a 10-year provision.

“I’m not going to vote to codify something that most people feel is illegal,” he said. “Some really bright legal minds feel it’s illegal. Every other jurisdiction in the state operates under the three-year directive. What’s so special about our folks? Why do they have to be 10?”

City Council members Bill Bishop, Lori Boyer, John Crescimbeni, and Matt Schellenberg also said they have a real problem with any term longer than three years for pension benefits. Along with Gulliford, they voted in December for the council-approved version of pension reform.

If the reform measure isn’t passed, the city may decide to go directly to unions to negotiate pension changes.

 

Photo by  pshab via Flickr CC License

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