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JACKSONVILLE — Dear Friends: With the renewed efforts of the Jacksonville Retirement Reform Task Force, we are moving forward again toward financial sustainability.
In early July, 11 community leaders selflessly agreed to serve on the task force to examine a retirement reform agreement that would have lowered City pension costs by $1.2 billion over the next 30 years, including $45 million next year and $100 million over the next 5 years.
Our retirement reform agreement included some of the most significant benefit concessions in the recent history of the state of Florida. The agreement would have seen the funded status of the plan increase from 38 percent to 71 percent.
Unfortunately, just as the panel was getting to work, City Council rejected the plan. Nine Council members fought valiantly to give both the task force and their own Finance Committee the time needed for a comprehensive review, but their efforts fell short.
Despite that action, I remain hopeful that we will achieve a sustainable retirement reform solution that is fair to both taxpayers and city employees.
And we must do this now, not later.
The City’s total retirement costs for all three pension plans will top $180 million next year. Those obligations account for nearly 20 percent of general fund spending and pressure our city budget.
A decade ago, the City contribution to the Police and Fire Pension Fund was less than $10 million.
This year, it is $148 million.
A decade ago, the Police and Fire Pension Fund had an unfunded liability of just under $500 million.
Today, that unfunded liability has grown to more than $1.5 billion.
Numbers like these have drawn the attention of financial experts. In fact, three major ratings agencies cite retirement costs as a threat to Jacksonville’s financial future.
We must seize this opportunity to solve the City of Jacksonville’s retirement challenge once and for all. I will continue to lead on this issue and look forward to working with all of the stakeholders to achieve a sustainable result that protects taxpayers and respects city employees.
You can learn more about this critical financial issue and our efforts to date by visiting the Retirement Reform page on coj.net.