Jacksonville Shelves Controversial Pension Appointment Bill

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The Jacksonville City Council unanimously agreed yesterday night to shelve a proposal that could have given the Mayor the power to appoint a member to the city’s Police and Fire Pension Fund board. Reported by the Florida Times-Union:

A wall-to-wall crowd of police and firefighters only had to wait a few minutes Wednesday evening to learn the fate of legislation aimed at giving city leaders the ability to appoint a majority of the Police and Fire Pension Fund board.

In contrast to the debate two weeks ago, the discussion Wednesday night among City Council members only lasted long enough for City Councilman John Crescimbeni to make a motion for withdrawal of his bill.

The council agreed 18-0, resulting in a win for police and firefighters who rallied in opposition to the legislation. Mayor Alvin Brown’s aides also lobbied against the bill, arguing it might unravel a proposed package of pension reforms negotiated by Brown and the Police and Fire Pension Fund.

Crescimbeni’s bill would have scheduled a November referendum for voters to decide whether the mayor should have the power to appoint the fifth member of the Police and Fire Pension Fund board.

Currently, two members of the board are chosen by police and firefighters, two are selected by City Council, and those four members jointly pick the fifth member.

Leaders representing city firefighters applauded the council’s decision But at least part of the reasoning behind shelving the bill had less to do with pension reform and more to do with logistical issues. From the Florida Times-Union:

Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, said the demise of the bill clears the way for City Council to consider a separate bill containing a host of changes to the police and fire pension system.

“We can move on and get true pension reform,” Wyse said after the vote.

In asking to withdraw the bill, Crescimbeni said there wouldn’t be enough time for election officials to take the procedural steps for placing the referendum on the November ballot.

Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland has said the legislation needed to be wrapped up this week.

A handful of council members tried to pass the bill earlier this month, but the council postponed the passage of the bill in a 9-8 vote.