After nearly 18 months of discussions with the Police and Fire Pension Fund, Mayor John Peyton and Peter Sleiman, chairman of the Police and Fire Pension Fund’s (PFPF) Special Committee on Pension Reform, announced today a pension reform plan that will save approximately $700 million over the next 35 years. The proposal will be presented to the full PFPF Board for consideration next Wednesday and requires approval by the Jacksonville City Council.
During his July 2009 budget address to the Jacksonville City Council, Mayor Peyton included pension reform in his three-part plan to secure the city’s financial sustainability. At the time, he noted that, unchecked, pension costs would skyrocket more than 500 percent during a 16-year period. Without substantive reform, Peyton stressed that basic city services would be at risk.
Combined with the other pension reform items negotiated with unions representing General Employees Pension Plan (GEPP) participants, these efforts will result in close to $1 billion in savings to this community over the next 35 years.
“Jacksonville, like governments across the country, continues to struggle with balancing the need to meet rising employee and pension costs while grappling with declining revenue and increasing service demands. As I have said many times, the key to managing our finances long term is pension reform,” said Mayor Peyton. “The plan that the PFPF Board will consider on Wednesday enacts significant change while continuing to provide fair and competitive benefits to future police and fire employees.”
Mayor Peyton added, “I am very appreciative of trustee Peter Sleiman for his willingness to be a part of the solution to our city’s financial challenges and for the time and effort he has put into crafting a reform package that changes the trajectory of unaffordable costs. Fund executive director John Keane and deputy executive director Richard Cohee, as well as Kerri Stewart and Mickey Miller on my staff, also played important roles in developing a plan that addresses long-term funding challenges but remains part of an attractive package that will help recruit new talent and recognize the service of future retirees.”
Council President Jack Webb said, “As a labor attorney by profession, I have been keenly focused on the multi-faceted pension issues challenging our city. This is one piece of the puzzle in our collective work to move our city toward a more sustainable future.”
In August 2010, the administration presented a pension reform plan to the PFPF Board that would modify pension benefits for future employees. The board then created the Special Committee on Pension Reform, spearheaded by Sleiman, to carefully review the plan and the impact to future employees.
“We believe that the changes I am recommending to the full PFPF Board accomplish two important goals: they help to create a more solvent investment for the city that can better withstand these challenging economic times and they ensure that employees have the opportunity to earn respectable retirement benefits for their service to this community," said Sleiman.
Councilmember Michael Corrigan, who was appointed last year by past Council President Ronnie Fussell to lead a Pension Reform Committee, said, “While the path to pension reform was long and challenging, we have done the right thing for the future of our city.”