JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Civic Council member, Peter Rummell, says there's no question Jacksonville's pension issue needs to be solved, and soon.
"It is the biggest financial problem, we think, that we've seen at least in the last 15 or 20 years," he said.
But Rummell and the rest of the Civic Council say Jacksonville Mayor Brown's current pension-reform plan doesn't do enough to solve the problem.
"We think his plan is a very good start. The problem is that it only deals with about 20 percent of the problem," said Rummell. "It is a $1.5 billion of unfunded responsibility to the city. And you just can't make that go away."
So the Civic Council wrote a letter to the mayor and the incoming City Council president offering a few solutions. One is that employees match city contributions. Another is raising taxes.
Rummell said, "The reality is for the last decade, we haven't been paying for it. And so now, we're in this ugly position where we might have to play catch up."
But raising taxes is something Mayor Brown says he just won't do. A statement released by his chief of staff David DeCamp said, "Many Jacksonville families are still struggling financially. When Mayor Brown submits his budget in July, the tax rate will be exactly the same as it was last year. He will not raise taxes.”
Be that as it may, the Civic Council says something's got to give. "We have to deal with it. We have to solve it. And it's going to take everybody working together to do that," said Rummell.
Action News also spoke with the newly elected City Council president, Bill Gulliford. He told us he appreciates the Civic Council's input. And he agrees the mayor's plan is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. But he also said he the council won't be bullied into making a decision one way or another.