Public Utility Back in Fold of Jacksonville Pension Reform Plan

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Jacksonville public utility company JEA is back on board with the city’s pension reform plan.

The company is helping to finance much of the city’s current reform proposal; JEA will make a $120 million lump sum payments to the city’s Police and Fire Pension Fund.

Last week, it was unclear whether JEA would go through with the plan.

More from the Florida Times-Union:

After a series of fast-paced negotiations between Mayor Alvin Brown’s administration and top JEA officials, prompted by a public rift last month, a plan to use the financial wherewithal of JEA and the city to pay the hefty price tag of Jacksonville pension reform is back on track.

JEA audit and finance committee members Thursday unanimously approved an agreement that stipulates the utility would — in exchange for financial and administrative concessions — make a $120 million lump sum payment to the city. Brown wants the city to use that payment, plus an additional $120 million the city would borrow, to more quickly pay down the $1.62 billion debt to the Police and Fire Pension Fund.


JEA’s annual general fund contribution currently increases by $2.5 million each year, maxing out at a total $114.2 million in 2016. That contribution formula — which expires next year — means that even as JEA’s revenues have declined in recent years, its contribution to the city has ballooned, a gulf that has become a top concern for JEA officials in recent years.

In exchange for borrowing $120 million for pension reform, however, the city had agreed to, in broad terms, reduce those JEA contributions by $2.5 million for the next several years and ultimately revert to a formula linked to JEA revenues.

JEA’s participation isn’t yet fully guaranteed; the utility’s board will meet later this month to vote on its participation.


Photo by  pshab via Flickr CC License

Jacksonville Pension Board Sends Reform Measure Back to City Council With Changes in Mind

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The board of Jacksonville’s Police and Fire Pension fund was set to vote on the city’s pension reform measure on Monday. But instead of an up-or-down vote, the board has requested several changes to the measure and sent it back to the city council for approval.

Both entities need to approve the measure before it is passed into law.

The changes the board is requesting, according to

John Keane, executive director of the fund, said the board has several concerns that it will express to the city:

– Calls on city council to guarantee a funding source for its $40 million annual contribution required by the agreement.

– Not willing to accept reduced cost-of-living increase from the agreed 3 percent annual to a variable rate between 0 and 6 percent for active and retired police and firefighters. The board is requesting it be increased to 0 to 6 percent.

– City council approved a 0-10 percent rate for deferred retirement (DROP) each year. Pension board wants higher rate: 2-14.4 percent.

– The original deal with the mayor allowed the terms of the plan to be renegotiated after 10 years. City council changed that to three years, which is not acceptable to the pension board.

The board said a primary concern is making sure current employees are confident that the revised pension plan will give them a secure future.

Members feel the funding deficit was created by the city, so the changes should be made strictly on the backs of the employees.

“We’ve gotten to this point today simply by fact that city has not saved for a rainy day,” said Richard Tuten, a member of the pension fund’s board.

The board and the council have a self-set deadline of January 15 to come up with a final proposal.


Photo by  pshab via Flickr CC License