Pension board needs time to review reform details

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Board needs more time to study details in a tentative agreement the board reached with Mayor Alvin Brown on pension reform.

Last week the two sides shook hands on an agreement that would reduce benefits to new employees, have employees pay more for their retirement and have the city kick in an extra $40 million annually.

The fund currently has a $1.6 billion dollar unfunded liability.

On Tuesday, a number of police officers showed up at the board meeting expecting a vote. That never happened, but the officers did speak their mind.

"We have already had a rash of officers leave for better paying benefits," said LT. Mike Beckman who has 28 years on the force. The union says that number is 73 officers last year leaving for other law enforcement positions.

Beckman told the pension board the city will have difficulty attracting qualified recruits with the benefit package on the table.

The pension board has set a meeting in June to once again go over the details and get the language in order so everyone is on the same page.

The Jacksonville City Council will also have to review the final language in the agreement.

Mayor Brown has committed the city to paying an extra $40 million annually until the pension fund reaches 80 percent funding. He has not identified where that money would come from.

The mayor's office is hoping all the details can be worked out so legislation on pension reform can be reviewed in committee the week of June 16. The expectation is that a final vote on the reform package can be done at the council meeting on June 24.


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