Jacksonville, FL - Dealing with the here and now.
Jacksonville’s City Council has decided in an informal meeting to have the administration move forward with next year’s budget proposal without reflecting pension reform with the police and fire unions.
“Council’s gunna need to be very careful in making a decision that’s about something more than this year’s budget,” says Finance Chair John Crescimbeni.
The decision was communicated to members of the administration, including Jacksonville’s Chief Financial Officer, at a Thursday meeting. The meeting was posted as one to talk about the budget between Greg Anderson, the incoming Finance Chair, and Bill Gulliford, the incoming City Council President. It was open to any interested parties, however, and many council members did appear.
Until this point, the Finance Office was working on two distinct budget proposals- one that reflected the passage of the current proposal for pension reform and one that did not.
Crescimbeni says the current deal doesn’t address all of his concerns.
“It’s an easy, quick fix, but you’re kicking the can down the road and that’s what we’ve kind of committed not to do anymore,” he says.
He says while this proposal may have given some relief to this year’s budget, we would be dealing with a larger payout once again in just a few years, which would put us in a similar circumstance.
“That long range question, that long range commitment, is something that’s much bigger than the shortfall in this year’s budget,” he says.
The Mayor’s Office submitted legislation outlining some of the budget basics last week. By the Finance Office’s calculations, there will be a $64 million hole to fill without pension reform. It would have been closer to $19 million with the reform deal.
“That is a big difference that we’re gunna have to cover with some sort of funds,” he says.
Councilman Matt Schellenberg tells me the council is looking past the pressure of the budget deadline I order to make the right long term decision. Both he and Crescimbeni are now ready to see how the Finance Office proposes to close the large gap. Schellenberg says they need to start rolling out more specifics than the across-the-board cuts proposed in the preliminary budget legislation.
The Mayor’s Office says, at this time, they have received no such directive from the Council, however WOKV confirmed the notice through multiple sources.
You can speak on the police and fire pension deals at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. The meeting begins at 5 PM and the legislation is up for a public hearing.