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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jun. 3, 201412:00 PM EST

City, pension fund finalize reform deal

by: David Chapman

Almost two weeks after coming to an agreement on pension reform, Mayor Alvin Brown and Police and Fire Pension Fund administrator John Keane were back at the table talking a deal.

Like last time, they walked away with an agreement in tow.

In the days that followed the previous one, there was concern from the fund’s board about different issues, leading to a final meeting Tuesday on language and terms.

New employees will be treated the same as they were two weeks ago. So will current employees — no last minute changes to cost-of-living adjustments or the Deferred Retirement Option Plan return rates.

And the $40 million the city will pay above what’s required is still in place, despite not having a defined funding source.

Instead, it was more about the language rather than the numbers involved with the deal.

A share plan the fund sought to increase benefits to members later was added after being left out the first time.

Both sides also clarified the length of the deal — the financial components end in 2024, while the governance reform ends in 2030. And the collective bargaining units, not the fund leadership will be at the other side of the negotiating table for future talks.

The fund received more assurance about the city contributing its $40 million each year to pay down the more than $1.6 billion in unfunded liability. Like last time, a six-person committee consisting of the City Council auditor, chief financial officer, Retirement Reform Task Force chair and others will annually meet to determine how the city should contribute its share. But, language was added that the mayor will take the committee’s recommendation and if he or she doesn’t accept it, instead proposes another source.

From there, council will review it as part of the budget process if it decides not to appropriate the money, has to certify in writing the reasons for the decision.

The city is planning to file legislation for the reform deal Wednesday.

It would then be introduced next week to council for review.


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