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Lack of police & fire pension deal may threaten Jacksonville’s financial rating

Reported by: Jamie Smith
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Updated: 7/10/2013 12:33 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A ratings agency report says the city is in “solid financial position." But only if pension reforms are made soon. 

Jacksonville City Council got more pressure Tuesday to pass a pension deal with the police and fire department.

The Fitch Ratings agency issued a warning that failure for City Council to pass pension agreement could threaten the City’s AA+ rating.

A lower credit rating would raise the cost for the city to borrow money. According to Fitch, “Delay in implementing reforms could pressure the rating.”

Bill Gulliford, City Council President, told Action News, ”I think they have every right to be concerned and I think they'd  like to see us solve the problem.”

According to the Fitch press release, “Absent pension reform the City [Jacksonville] would be faced with a significant 13.9% reduction in controllable costs that would likely necessitate furloughs and layoffs (750-850 employees) and the closure of libraries, fire stations, and recreational facilities.”

Mayor Brown’s office agrees with the ratings agency’s assessment, because it reinforces the mayor’s hopes of stabilizing the city’s finances.

But Gulliford told Action News he will not be pressured into a pension deal he feels might not go far enough to improve the city pension system that now costs double what it did in 2006.

“What worries me is going into a situation with a gun to your head and you might not do the right thing,” said Gulliford.



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