Jacksonville Poised to Pass Amended Pension Reform Plan

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After months of debate, the Jacksonville City Council is as close as ever to passing an oft-amended pension reform bill.

The bill originally was designed to force the city to pay higher annual payments into its Police and Fire Pension Fund. But new amendments will likely force pensioners to shoulder some of the burden, as well.

Details on the new amendments to the bill, from the Florida Times-Union:

One amendment favored by City Council would give the city the power to unilaterally impose changes in pension benefits in three years if there is an impasse between the city and police and firefighter unions in future collective bargaining talks.

Gulliford said that would put Jacksonville in the same posture as other Florida cities.

Another amendment would change the cost-of-living adjustments that current police and firefighters would get for pension benefits earned after a new agreement takes effect. Instead of a guaranteed 3 percent COLA annually, the COLA would float based on Social Security’s cost-of-living index, with a maximum COLA of 4 percent.

That change would reduce the city’s pension cost in years when Social Security is less than 3 percent, but the city’s cost would be higher if inflation pushes that index above 3 percent.

According to the calculations of the Times-Union, the bill, amendments included, is likely to pass a vote by City Council:

Most Finance Committee members previously backed the amendments during an initial round of voting last week.

Though nothing would be final until the full council meets Dec. 9, the votes so far show an emerging majority of council is lining up to approve the pension legislation, albeit with significant differences from the tentative agreement put forward by Mayor Alvin Brown.

In the Rules Committee, the unanimous votes for the amended bill were cast by Bill Bishop, Johnny Gaffney, Bill Gulliford, Warren Jones, Robin Lumb, Don Redman and Matt Schellenberg.

[…]

In addition to the seven City Council members who voted to move forward with the amended bill Monday, the amendments drew support at last week’s Rules-Finance committee meeting from council members Richard Clark, Lori Boyer, John Crescimbeni and Jim Love. City Council President Clay Yarborough also supported the amendments.

That would add up to at least 12 members voting for the bill, which would exceed the 10 votes needed to get a majority on the 19-member council.

The city’s Police and Fire Pension Fund is 43 percent funded.

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