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Jax Daily Record Friday, Jun. 27, 201412:00 PM EST

Pension board reviewing deal before forwarding to council

by: David Chapman

Before City Council has its first crack at the pension reform deal next month, the Police and Fire Pension Fund board of trustees will weigh in.

The five-member board will receive the 57-page bill during its meeting this morning to, as fund administrator John Keane puts it, “thoroughly review all aspects of the legislation.”

No action will be taken today, Keane said, but a series of workshops and meetings will be scheduled for the board to review the legislation.

Members also would be able to offer amendments, he said.

The board’s next regular scheduled meeting is July 18, but the workshops likely will be scheduled in the coming weeks leading to that date. It will then submit a required report to council on the bill.

Mayor Alvin Brown’s administration has said it is hopeful the pension bill can be passed July 22, the first opportunity for council to vote on it in a regular review cycle.

Yet, with Brown presenting his budget July 14 and new council committees meeting for the first time that same week, that schedule might not work, incoming council President Clay Yarborough recently


Former state Sen. Rod Smith moderated a series of meetings between Brown and Keane throughout May to talk pension reform. Those meetings resulted in the deal currently before council and now the fund’s board.

The bill reflects changes to the contribution and benefit levels of current employees and new employees, makes governance changes and pays down unfunded pension liability annually through extra city payments.

Those extra payments are slated to be $40 million above what’s legally required. How the city will pay that tab remains a key question among council members and several who served on the former Jacksonville Retirement Reform Task Force.

The deal states a committee that meets annually should find the money. Critics have said they want to see a dedicated source.

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