Jacksonville, FL - It’s a deal that’s months in the making and has led to mediation, and even a lawsuit.
But now the City of Jacksonville, Fraternal Order of Police, Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters and Police and Fire Pension Fund say they’ve worked out a deal that all parties can agree on, and that will save you money.
“We needed to do retirement reform and we got it done by working together,” Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown tells WOKV.
The deal announced Wednesday is projected to save the city $1.1 billion over the next 30 years, $50 million in the upcoming fiscal year alone. The city equates that to jobs and services for you.
“It clearly puts us in a great position to start working on next year’s budget,” Brown says.
The road to the deal first started in October of last year when the city outlined a reform plan for the FOP. By November, the two were at impasse. JAFF followed soon after- receiving their proposal in December and seeing impasse by January. The key sticking point at that time was who should be sitting at the bargaining table. The City aimed to negotiate with the unions, but the unions claimed the PFPF was their bargaining unit. It’s an issue that even drew a lawsuit, and as a result the PFPF was finally given a seat at the table.
“This could have been done a long time ago, but I’m glad it’s done now and we’ll move forward,” Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters President Randy Wyse tells WOKV.
I asked Wyse why he thought the PFPF was finally given a seat at the table. He point to the lawsuit, which he was a part of.
“It was a good impetus to get us to the table- it did it,” he says.
Brown believes there was a common sense of getting the job done, and that’s what eventually brought everyone together.
For both, this is an important step toward solvency for the city’s retirement system, and keeping all parties on good terms.
“There’s been a lot of indecision and a lot of barbs thrown back and forth, and this [deal] just clears the air,” Wyse says.
The deal must still appear before City Council, but all parties involved in the negotiations are happy with what has been decided so far.
There will be a number of changes in what new employees can expect out of their retirement plan. The full list of changes is outlined in a document to the left, but the highlights include more time to become a full retirement beneficiary, greater time served to retire, a lower benefit accrual rate, no DROP, a lower COLA and a higher employee contribution.
The city and unions stressed that there will be no impact on existing employees. Those employees did agree to a higher contribution rate, but that’s only if a prior wage reduction is first restored. Additionally, a fund that was previously used for additional benefits will now be used to pay down the city’s pension contribution.
The parties involved agreed to study several options for potential future savings as part of this deal. While the deal doesn’t include any action past the study, it’s something the city says it will consider further down the road. You can see a full list of changes attached to the left, but we’ve listed some of the options here.
-Disability Plan- The current disability plan is included under the PFPF as it stands, and the city wants to examine if removing it from other retirement negotiations could save money.
- Real Estate- The city is currently soliciting bids for a company to inventory and assess all its real estate and determine what to do with it. The city says it’s possible some of the profits from real estate designated for sale could be used to pay down pension costs.
There are several areas where the city is looking to better define roles within the PFPF. Specifically, they are examining selection criteria for future PFPF administrators, retirement options for the administrator and selection guidelines for the fifth members of the PFPF Board. Further details are attached to the left.