In February, the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund Board of Trustees balked at a Mar. 15 deadline to vote on the city’s latest pension plan.
The board had worried that there would not be enough time to review the data of the new plan, which offers raises and uniformity of benefits for current employees, while providing a new defined contribution plan for future hires — offering a 25 percent city match and assurances that death and disability benefits would substantially be the same as they are for current employees.
Since then, the Fraternal Order of Police and the corrections officers had approved the deal, with the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters voting on it this week.
And now, after a prolonged period of negotiations, which included candid emails between PFPF Trustee Board Chair Richard Tuten and the city’s chief administrative officer, Sam Mousa, the board and the city have struck a compromise.
The board is expected to vote on the deal two days after the city’s unilaterally imposed deadline: Friday, March 17, at its regular 9 a.m. board meeting, according to emails between Mousa and the heads of the police and fire unions.
Facilitating the compromise to extend the deadline two days — cooperation of the members of the board not named Richard Tuten, as Mousa wrote to PFPF Plan Administrator Tim Johnson.
“The Mayor has asked me to ask you to please extend his thanks and gratitude to the four (4) PFPF Board Members (Scheu, Brown, Payne and Patsy) who took time out of their busy schedule to meet individually with me and Mike Weinstein concerning pension reform. Mike and I are furthermore appreciative of those members as we believe the meetings were very productive,” Mousa wrote.
If this vote is successful (and if it actually happens, the pension deal will move on to the Jacksonville City Council, whose own members have serious questions about the actual hard numbers in the deal — numbers that have yet to be produced for public review by the Lenny Curry administration.
Curry contends that the deal will save the city money, saying that the 25 percent city match is far short of what the city pays for pension costs for current employees.
“Right now we’re spending 119 percent of for [pension costs] for every JSO employee and fireman,” Curry said. “If we hired you today, we would take your salary and put 119 percent of that in the pension fund. That’s not sustainable …. 25 percent is a fraction of 119 percent. It works. It will attract and retain people.”
“As to when the numbers will be made available,” Curry said, “City Council will have to vote on this, and all of these numbers will be laid out before them, which is how the budget process works.”