Pension Board Changes Might Be “Deal Killer” For Jacksonville Reform

palm tree

On Monday, the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension board made several changes to the city’s pending pension reform measure and sent it back to city council for approval.

But the changes could be a “deal killer”, according to one council member.

One major change was the length of time the measure would be in effect. The council wanted three years, but the board changed it to ten.

Reported by the Jacksonville Daily Record:

If it’s not at least 10 years, I’m not voting for any of it,” said Lt. Richard Tuten III, the firefighter’s representative on the board.

Police representative Chief Larry Schmitt and fifth member Nat Glover also were leaning that way — a majority.

That vote would mean the meat of council’s decisions had been undone, a move board Chair Walt Bussells said might doom reform and leave it for a judge to decide.

So, he asked members to reconsider the benefit components. The board did and approved rates that weren’t what council passed, but did eliminate fixed guarantees.

It didn’t budge on the length of the deal, though. And that could be a “deal killer,” said council member Lori Boyer.

“If that’s the case, then that’s a real big problem for me,” she said.

Boyer maintains state law says such deals can’t extend beyond three years. And like the police and firefighters who uphold the law on a daily basis, she says she took an oath to do the same.

“We can’t start putting politics above the law,” she said.

She said she possibly could handle changes to the benefits side, but without the three-year term it’s a non-issue.

Council member Bill Gulliford authored the amendments to those benefit changes on cost-of-living adjustments and DROP. He said if the only issue had been the former, he probably could have lived with it. But all the tweaks?

“I can’t buy the changes, I’m sorry,” he said.

After council passed what he thinks was the best offer, he said he thought the board’s decisions rendered the deal “dead.”

“I think council pretty much spoke,” he said, referring to the 16-3 vote in December that passed the deal the pension board weighed in recent weeks.

Both the council and the pension board must approve the measure before it is passed into law.


Photo by  pshab via Flickr CC License

Florida Pension Changes May Unravel As Board Debates Reforms

palm tree

The Jacksonville City Council and Mayor Alvin Brown spent most of the summer months debating and constructing a pension reform measure that aimed to improve the funding of the city’s Police and Fire Pension Fund.

The Council approved the measure earlier this month. Now, the measure sits in front of the Police and Fire Pension Board, which will vote on it by January 15.

There’s no guarantee the board will approve the measure. From the Florida Times-Union:

It’s always been expected that changes to the 3 percent COLA and the guaranteed 8.4 percent return on DROP accounts for current employees were going to be stumbling blocks.

But the benefit changes for new hires hadn’t caused much of a stir until the board met last week to review the agreement.

Board members Richard Tuten and Larry Schmitt, representing the firefighters and police, said the changes are hard to swallow and will make it difficult to recruit good people needed to protect the city.

A third member of the board, former Sheriff Nat Glover, said he is uncomfortable with the changes and also concerned about the safety of the city.

Walt Bussells, the board’s chairman, said if a vote were taken, it would be 3-2 against.

“If we did do that, it kills the whole deal,” he said.


Tuten was the most vocal in his criticism of the changes for new hires and current employees.

He offered what he said was a string of broken promises and fear of more changes by politicians that “we can’t trust any farther than we can throw them.”

“If we are going to get keistered here, let’s go to court right now,” he said. “That’s what I get from my members.”

The measure calls for benefit changes for new police and fire hires, as well as COLA changes for current employees. In return, the city would pay an additional $40 million a year into the Police and Fire fund for the next 10 years.


Photo by  pshab via Flickr CC License