During Monday’s Jacksonville City Council meeting, a resolution authorizing an inquiry into the legality and the validity of the Police and Fire Pension Fund Senior Staff Voluntary Retirement Plan was up for a vote. This measure got through Finance and Rules Committees last week on a 6-to-1 vote after it was pushed back to committees at the last City Council meeting.
John Crescimbeni pointed out that the point of the bill isn’t “punishment,” but to provide legal clarity on the question of whether or not the fund is authorized. To him, this is a question of “right and wrong.”
“Let’s do the right thing here. You know how the general public feels about this; let’s not let them down,” Crescimbeni said.
Councilman Danny Becton wondered whether such an inquiry would be cost-effective, and described himself as having run saying that he would function in government as if he were spending his own money.
“Emotion aside, I wouldn’t do it,” Becton said, citing “obligations we have in the future.”
“We have checks right now that we can’t cash,” calling this a “million-dollar decision” with a “chance of breaking public trust either way.”
“I wouldn’t spend the money out of my checkbook,” Becton said.
Councilman Bill Gulliford voiced his own support for the resolution. Then Crescimbeni called the general counsel down to the mic, before going into details about the special circumstances with this three-person pension plan.
Jason Gabriel reiterated his assertion that “there is a 100 percent chance this could go either way,” adding that the pension reform bill did not settle theissue.
Councilman Doyle Carter chimed in to pledge his support. The measure carried 18-1, with Becton as the dissident.