Interesting public notice meetings in Jax Thursday

pfpf

Two interesting Jacksonville City Council public notice meetings are slated for Thursday, and both of them have to do with public safety-related legal concerns.

At 1 p.m, Councilwoman Anna Brosche meets with Council VP Lori Boyer regarding 2015-783, the so-called Cure Legislation to resolve a controversial budget night allocation of $330,799 from the stormwater budget to salaries for people promoted to be Public Safety officers in the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

Fire Union head Randy Wyse had texted various Council members before the decision was reached to have a second vote on the allocation; once that was reported on (H/T Chris Hong of the Florida Times-Union), a lawsuit from the Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County followed.

This led to a ban on cellphone use in meetings, one which was very stern at the time, but which seems to have become more elastic (as exemplified by John Crescimbeni, in the Wednesday Land Use and Zoning meeting, pulling out his phone to show pictures of something, asking sarcastically if anyone minded).

More importantly, though, finding a way to keep the $330,000 in the JFRD budget has caused Council committees headaches, with lengthy discussions not leading to any resolution.

The political optics of taking money from long-delayed stormwater projects are obvious; one committee member, Reggie Brown, advised that other departmental budgets be “scrubbed” to find these funds.

There have been questions, also, as to whether the Cure Legislation is necessary; unfortunately for Council, it seems to be a precondition of the settlement.

And of course, double binds are created by these positions. JFRD says that they achieve cost savings of over $600,000 per year with the Safety Officer positions; Councilwoman Boyer, meanwhile, contends that this one-time allocation really is the gift that keeps on giving, as pension for these workers would exceed $250,000 a year until the end of time.

Will Council resolve this before the end of the fiscal year? That’s an open question.

Also an open question: the subject of the subpoenas of Police and Fire Pension Fund material, requested last year as part of the “forensic audit” of the pension fund that some on Council regard as gospel, and that others regard as blasphemy.

The PFPF maintains that their investments and practices have been sound, and that the issues are rooted in the city not holding up its end of the bargain. Council, meanwhile, disagrees, saying that the fund was wastefully and poorly managed.

Though the fund has a new Executive Director, questions still remain. Anna Brosche, who seems to be the member of the class of 2015 being groomed for leadership positions going forward, chairs a three-person subcommittee that includes John Crescimbeni and Danny Becton.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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