Connect with us

Jax

Health care plan changes loom for Jacksonville fire, police

Jacksonville City Council committees on Monday and Tuesday approved changes in collective bargaining for fire and police employees that could change health plans.

Ordinances 2018-756 and 2018-757 would allow the unions to separate from the city health care plan in 2020. They were passed without opposition in both committees of reference (“Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety” on Monday, and “Finance” on Tuesday).

But not without some intrigue.

Ahead of Monday’s meeting, the Council Auditor had concerns about the deals the Mayor’s Office negotiated with the unions. Allowing this separation would “erode” consolidated government, with the city on the hook for costs of the plan but divested of bargaining authority, the office asserted.

“Assuming the separate plans occur, the City’s actuary projects that in calendar year 2020, the current healthcare plan costs for all other City employees/retirees will be $15.6 million (or 40.3%) more than what will be paid in by the City and other City employees/retirees,” the auditor’s comments contend.

Other concerns: Those costs would go up every year, and there is no dedicated funding source. Added costs could be imposed by retirees rejoining the city plan. Meanwhile, the city would lose its ability to audit the plan.

Former Jacksonville CFO Mike Weinstein, who helped to negotiate the plan while still in an official capacity, noted Monday that the health changes were of “paramount importance” to the unions, but ultimately were a Council decision.

Currently, the unions are with Blue Cross Blue Shield, and are obliged to stay with BCBS until 2022. There are clauses to protect the city through that point, Weinstein said.

Weinstein also said the program could be audited by the city, via a separate trust account that will be set up for the city contribution.

Weinstein also noted that public safety may have a negotiating advantage on insurance rates, given the overall health of police and fire being better than that of city employees. With defined benefit plans not available for new hires after 2016’s pension reform, better health plans can help with recruitment.

“They’re going to go out and they’re going to have their own program,” Weinstein said Monday, noting that Council would get to review this every three years.

Councilman Garrett Dennis, a Democrat, wondered Monday if unions could be “pulled back” into city health care plans “for the betterment of the city.” Weinstein said that could happen during re-negotiations at three year intervals, and that the unions may decide not to make changes after review.

Tuesday’s discussion involved more of a drill down, but the fate of the bills were never in doubt, with Council members and union heads all saying kind things about how easy the process was compared to previous years with different heads and a different mayoral administration.

The full Council gets its shot next week. Due to unanimous committee votes, this bill will likely pass on the Consent Agenda.

Written By

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Brian Mast outlines early path for Ron DeSantis’ algae battle

Transition

Duval GOP elects Dean Black to chairman slot

Jax

Pinellas Democrat Pinellas Democrat

Former chef Barbara Scott takes out Susan McGrath as top Pinellas Democrat

Tampa Bay

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 12.11.18

Emails & Opinions

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Michael Moline, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Connect
Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.