Atlantic Beach May Throw Support Behind State Investigation of Jacksonville Pension Fund

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There is growing support for a state investigation into Jacksonville’s Police and Fire Pension Fund and its deferred retirement option plan (DROP).

At least one state representative and a handful of others, including city council members and a mayor, have called for a state investigation into whether the fund engaged in regulatory violations in its administration of the DROP.

Now the city of Atlantic Beach is considering joining the calls for an investigation.

From the Jacksonville Business Journal:

The Atlantic Beach City Commission may get behind calls for an investigation into the Police and Fire Pension Fund.

The commission, which meets Monday, could join Rep. Janet Adkins in requesting Gov. Rick Scott to order an investigation of the pension fund.

Atlantic Beach doesn’t contribute to the pension fund, but does contract with Jacksonville for its firefighting service, according to the Florida Times-Union.

In addition, the Atlantic Beach mayor, Carolyn Woods, has said that her constituents have a stake in the pension fund, as contributors to both Jacksonville and Atlantic Beach.

The city commission backing Adkins’ request would mark the first time a government agency has joined the pursuit.

Read more Pension360 coverage of the Jacksonville Police and Fire fund here.


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Jacksonville Council President Latest to Support State Investigation of Public Safety Pension System

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Florida Rep. Janet Adkins last month sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott calling for an investigation into “impropriety…questionable practices and possible mismanagement” of Jacksonville’s Police and Fire Pension fund.

Specifically, Adkins wanted an investigation into how the fund administered its DROP accounts, and whether they ignored regulations and city auditors.

Shortly thereafter, city Councilman Bill Gulliford sent a letter supporting the idea of an investigation.

On Tuesday, council President Clay Yarborough threw his support behind the investigation.

From the Florida Times-Union:

Jacksonville City Council President Clay Yarborough sent a letter on Tuesday to Gov. Rick Scott supporting a state investigation into the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund.

In his letter, Yarborough said he stands with state Rep. Janet Adkins, who asked Scott in December for the state’s chief inspector general and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct a “review and investigation” of the pension fund.

“The Jacksonville City Council recognizes and appreciates the sacrifice and dedication of all public safety personnel,” Yarborough said. “That withstanding, Representative Adkins prudently identified … that restoration of public confidence in the management of the pensions is imperative. This is in the best interest of taxpayers and employees alike.”

The focus of the potential investigation:

The city’s attorneys and the pension fund have disagreed in recent years over several issues, including the creation of a special pension plan for senior staff members, including its longtime executive director, John Keane.

Despite city attorneys saying the pension fund lacked the authority to create the special pension plan, the fund’s own attorneys said they disagreed. As of now, Keane’s special pension plan is fully funded and is set to pay him benefits when he retires.

Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, has asked Scott to investigate the special pension plan, as well as determine whether state rules and laws were followed in regard to the creation, management and regulation of Deferred Retirement Option Program accounts.

In October, the Times-Union reported how the pension fund ignored findings by the City Council Auditor’s Office and city lawyers that the pension fund incorrectly applied regulations for participation in DROP. The paper found that three individuals who entered DROP will collectively receive about $1.8 million more than they would have under strict interpretation of the code.

The Governor’s Office has remained mum on whether it will begin an investigation.


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