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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Feb. 18, 201412:00 PM EST

Mayor Alvin Brown has new suggestions for how JEA can help lower public safety pension's unfunded liability


Mayor Alvin Brown released new details on how he says JEA could help the city’s unfunded pension problems by contributing an additional $40 million each year, without raising rates.

Brown presented a pension task force group Tuesday with the opportunities, saying that by allowing the publicly owned utility to enroll its employees into a separate pension plan, it could save $503 million over 35 years. Those changes would only affect new employees.

Another opportunity is JEA’s natural gas costs, which are below the budget’s utility. In 2012, the utility produced a $35 million fuel surplus because of low natural gas prices and had a $37 million surplus in 2013. A similar amount is expected in 2014, he said in a news release.

Additionally, despite JEA saying its revenue would flat, Brown said revenue growth will be above projections. Brown cited a U.S. Department of Energy report that shows electricity consumption will grow about 1 percent a year, equaling about $18 million per year.

JEA debt reduction also would mean savings as principal and interest payments are lowered, he said.

The mayor also said productivity gains would bring a “modest” 1 percent improvement in the utility’s expenses, which would mean $3.7 million in annual savings.

JEA board chair Mike Hightower said he received Brown's suggestions Monday.

The JEA board is scheduled to meet at 1:30 p.m. today, while the full task force that will make pension recommendations will meet at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

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