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With $40 Million Pension Payment Looming, Jacksonville Mayor Says He Won’t Raise Taxes To Pay Down Pension Shortfall

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The city of Jacksonville agreed earlier this year to pay $40 million annually for the next 10 years to its Police and Fire Pension Fund.

But the city hasn’t yet decided where it will get that money. But Mayor Alvin Brown made it clear Wednesday that a tax increase is not in the cards.

From the Jacksonville Daily Record:

How will the city pay an additional $40 million each year to more quickly pay down its unfunded liability?

If it’s up to Mayor Alvin Brown, it won’t be a sales tax. Or a property tax. Or any tax for that matter.

If council ends up seeking the Legislature’s approval to put such a funding mechanism on the ballot, Brown would not support it.

“No, sir. I wouldn’t sign it,” Brown responded when council member John Crescimbeni asked if he’d support a bill for a tax referendum.

Brown later went a step further, telling council member Bill Gulliford he’d veto any such attempt.

“I don’t think we have to do any taxes to solve this,” Brown said.

[…]

Brown and Police and Fire Pension Fund administrator John Keane struck a deal this year that has the city paying a total of $400 million over the next 10 years make the stabilize the plan. That $40 million each year would be determined annually by a newly formed committee. For months, council members have said not having an identified source is a chief concern — sentiments that spilled into Wednesday’s almost four hours of talks.

Council member Lori Boyer said not having the source identified was “totally irresponsible.” The burden, she said, would come back to council for the financial wrangling “and everyone (else) can stay hands off.”

Brown told the group he and his administration are “working on it.” Chris Hand, Brown’s chief of staff, said there isn’t a dedicated funding source “yet.” The JEA proposal is the only one the administration has pitched as a funding source to this point.

The Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund is 43 percent funded and is shouldering $1.6 billion of unfunded liabilities.

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