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Pension reform a huge factor in proposed city budget

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Updated: 6/04/2013 9:36 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The mayor has put pen to paper on this coming fiscal year's projected budget. The city has $950 million to work with. Action News has discovered that budget projection depends pretty heavily on pension reform.

City Council President Bill Bishop said this year, the council asked the mayor to submit two preliminary budgets because of the huge impact pension reform could have. It's an issue they've been trying to tackle for years. Mayor Alvin Brown has made it a top priority.

"The reason is, it will help stabilize the budget situation. It will help sustain retirement for our hardworking employees and make it sustainable for our taxpayers, too," said Dave DeCamp with the mayor's office.

If pension reform passes, the budget calls for a 4-percent cut from every department to meet a $950 million budget. DeCamp said they expect pension reform to save the city $45 million. But if pension reform isn't passed, the budget calls for a 14-percent cut to each department.

"We've had multiple actuarial reports that endorse our proposed savings of $1.2 billion over the next several decades, so we're very optimistic that council will do its due diligence and agree," DeCamp said.

But Bishop said next year's budget has to be submitted mid-July, giving them only about seven weeks to tackle pension reform. The proposal on the table for that, he says, needs some serious work.

"Will it get done by the middle of July? I significantly doubt that it will," said Bishop.

He said the safest move for the city would be to pass a budget with pension reform not factored in. If it happens in the next year, that will be an added boost down the line.

"We need to address the budget with the facts that we have on the ground today," said Bishop.

DeCamp said if pension reform isn't passed and they have less to work with, they may be forced to eliminate jobs. Bishop says after the past two years, there aren't any positions left to cut.
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