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Mayor Lenny Curry
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Nov. 1, 201612:00 PM EST

Curry begins pension push with unions; proposes bonus, raises and closing defined-benefit plan to new employees of supervisors association

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by: David Chapman

After convincing state lawmakers and Duval County voters on the merits of a pension sales tax, Mayor Lenny Curry took his next step Tuesday morning toward solve the city’s more than $2.7 billion unfunded liability problem.

The mayor made his initial pitch to the Jacksonville Supervisors Association, the first of seven unions the city must come to an accord with if the half-cent sales tax that would pay down the pension problem is to go into effect.

The proposal is one that Curry says takes into account the sacrifice of those employees who took a 2 percent pay cut in 2010 and have not since received raises. It’s also a proposal he said helps taxpayers by closing such “dinosaur” defined-benefit plans to new employees, as Curry wants to do with the supervisors association. The group is one of four unions that comprise the General Employees Pension Plan.

Jason Geiger, the association president, said after the brief sit-down with city representatives, the offer called for pay restorations over the next several years.

A “lump sum” payment of 2 percent would go to the association’s 435 city employees if the deal is approved. That would be followed by a 4 percent pay increase in 2017-18, a 3 percent raise in 2018-19 and a 2.5 percent increase in 2019-20.

He noted the 4 percent increase that would go into effect next year would essentially cover the 2 percent loss his employees have taken since 2010 along with the 2 percent increase they would pay toward their retirements under the proposal.

“It’s not a negative offer,” Geiger said Tuesday.

However, one concern the association has is that closing the pension plan to new employees might impact recruitment and retention efforts.

Geiger said the group’s members and leadership would weigh in on the offer and come back to the city.

One of the Legislature’s conditions on approving the Curry plan this year was that at least one of the city’s three defined benefit plans — general employees, police and fire, and corrections — had to be closed to new employees.

Curry wouldn’t reveal details of proposals with the other unions until initial bargaining sessions with the groups. Those are scheduled throughout the week.

 

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