On Thursday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry took reporters’ questions, and primary among them was one about Moody’s offering mixed reviews of his pension reform package.
Curry’s pension reform, covered exhaustively here, included moving new hires to defined contribution plans, imposing a sales tax extension to deal with legacy defined-benefit costs, and boosting the city’s contribution to 25 percent of payroll on these DC plans.
Moody’s had caveats.
“Jacksonville’s reliance on future revenues, rather than current contributions, to address its pension underfunding will continue to negatively impact our key credit metrics related to its pensions … because we do not consider future revenues as pension assets – while city contributions are going to be reduced … Jacksonville will also provide costly new benefits and salary increases under the plan, which it can only afford because it will defer a significant portion of its legacy pension costs to the 2030s,” reads the report.
On Thursday, Curry addressed the Moody’s report for the first time.
“It also says we got out of the pension business. This has been an almost two-year process — pension reform,” Curry said.
“It’s done now. We’ve solved the problem. There’s no new information here. We meet with the ratings agencies regularly. I’ve met with them a number of times since I’ve been in office,” Curry added.
“It was a very public campaign with taxpayers — 65 percent of them said yes. City Council ratified it numerous times. We’ve solved the problem. All the information’s been laid out for two years. And we’re trucking on,” Curry said.
Curry added that his team has a “great relationship” with the ratings agencies, which understand how the city is managing its budgets.
“It’s over. And we’ll continue to work with them on what’s best for Jacksonville, and managing our credit ratings,” Curry said.
Expect more reports from the ratings agencies in the near future, Curry said.