Donna Deegan says Lenny Curry’s Jacksonville pension reform put cops, fire in ‘bad position’

Donna Deegan image via COJ
The Jacksonville Mayor says 401K style plans make recruitment and retention difficult.

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan is continuing to sell her proposal to put fire and police on Florida Retirement System (FRS) pension plans.

And she’s saying that the pension reform under her predecessor is part of the reason why, as the move put public safety workers and their departments in a “bad position.”

“I think that if you look at what has happened over the last, you know, decade or so, I think there was a belief earlier that perhaps more police departments and fire departments were going to go to a 401k sort of system and that didn’t happen,” Deegan told interviewer Dan Scanlan on WJCT.

.”So when it didn’t happen, it really put our police and fire into a bad position in terms of being able to both recruit and retain talent. And if you can’t do that, then it’s hard to have a really effective department

A white paper released during the Lenny Curry administration warned against unraveling what his administration calls pension reform, but the Deegan team moved forward with FRS proposals for two public safety unions: the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters and the local Fraternal Order of Police.

But how much that actually costs is still unknown, and will be for a few more weeks, offering a complication to City Council members who have an interest in the price tag and how it will affect budgeting.

Per spokesperson Phil Perry, cost projections “were created for the collective bargaining negotiations” but they can’t be released until “both unions have ratified their agreements.”

Costs are certain to escalate. One informed estimate is the cost per employee could be upwards of 40%, and the proposals also include pay increases over three years ranging from 22% to 30%.

“The first realized budget impacts will be in FY28. There are several variables that make it difficult to pinpoint the exact financial impact until employee elections occur in 2027,” Perry said last month.

Defined benefit pensions were eliminated for new hires as of 2017, a condition of pension reform legislation in Jacksonville and Tallahassee. The measures authorized a successful referendum dedicating a current half-cent sales tax to defraying legacy pension debt once its current purpose of paying down Better Jacksonville Plan (BJP) obligations is fulfilled.

However, that plan to defray roughly $5 billion in legacy DB pension costs will be delayed, as the half-cent BJP tax will be slotted back toward capital costs, allowing the city to pay its $775 million obligation for renovations for the Jaguars’ stadium, with the team on the hook for $625 million.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been the Northeast Florida correspondent for Florida Politics since 2014. He writes for the New York Post and National Review also, with previous work in the American Conservative and Washington Times and a 15+ year run as a columnist in Folio Weekly. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • MH/Duuuval

    July 9, 2024 at 12:53 pm

    Let’s see how the MAGAs in the FOP leadership behave moving forward.

  • Frankie M.

    July 9, 2024 at 1:31 pm

    How can that be if the unions voted in favor of Lenny’s plan? So now police & fire are in a good position while the city is not. Can we at least expect public safety unions to be solidly behind Deegan come reelection time?

    • MH/Duuuval

      July 10, 2024 at 12:53 pm

      This is the $64 question. All the male bonding that goes on among the blue from coast to coast is going to make it difficult for locals to change their tune.

  • Get off my lawn

    July 9, 2024 at 3:27 pm

    Really hope Deegn is a one term mayor but either way she will leave this city bankrupt with no accountability for own administration. So basically the police budget just doubles after previous increases. I support the blue and want them to have everything they need. What I can’t figure out is why our own area has almost no police presence where we used to have officers who lived in the community and were present and involved, now all those officers moved out of Duval I guess. Crime has gone up, speeders, drunks, bad stuff, all up and never never see a cop car around here anymore. Some drunk totaled our car while it was parked in front our house and they took over an hour to get here and didn’t even give the woman a ticket or check her, despite witnesses and she was very clearly messed up but maybe it’s because she was driving an expensive van and acted rich and indignant, and the officers treated us like we were the problem for putting our little car in the way of her shiny new vehicle as it barreled onto our lawn. They actually threatened us we were not allowed to speak and refused to take our own witness account. Then pandered to this woman who was stumbling and slurring her speech. We see her around the neighborhood driving her sporty new town and country van she got as a replacement while ours was totaled. The way the police wrote it up they called it a no fault accident (she literally drove drunk off the road and plowed into a parked car which had it not been there she would have plowed into children playing in the yard ) so we had no legal recourse. I’d like these pay increases and pensions to be tied to some kind of accountability and PRESENCE in the communities they serve, and require officers to actually live in Duval and pay their taxes here. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

    • MH/Duuuval

      July 11, 2024 at 12:57 pm

      This comes from electing a MAGA for sheriff.

Comments are closed.


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