Jacksonville’s City Council could be voting on a pension reform plan for city police and firefighters that would save taxpayers an estimated $750-million over the next 35 years.
The bill would have to be taken up as an emergency. The reason it’s being rushed through is because this would be the current city council’s last meeting before new members and the new mayor get sworn in.
Current council president Jack Webb says it’s not really getting rushed since this has been worked on for the past couple of years. “That’s the one bill in the world that’s not being rushed, we’ve been working on the matter for 2 years,” says Webb.
He says if the new council has to take the bill, it could take them awhile before they make a vote. “You’ll spend a year just getting up to speed on the facts, the history of the negotiations, so I believe quite a bit will be lost if we don’t go ahead with the negotiations,” says Webb.
Council member Bill Bishop tells WOKV the negotiations between the police and fire pension board and the city those have been ongoing but it hasn’t become part of their daily lives, it’s not something everyone has become well versed with.
Bishop says the projected savings, those are questionable right now. “The savings that people keep talking about are those projection numbers the auditor was unable to verify last week,” says Bishop.
He says the projections were still being worked on this week by the auditor. The initial projections came from the mayor’s office.
Council president Webb says, “Some people have taken the position that we shouldn’t take action on it because a new council and a mayor could do better on it but there’s also a chance a new mayor and a new council could do worse.”
Council member Bishop says it feels rushed and it makes you wonder, what are people trying to hide, even though that might not be the case.