JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The City Council proposed it. Mayor Brown backed it saying, "I would ask that you support local bill J-1. This measure will help to ensure a strong transparency and accountability to manage police and fire pension funds."
And Friday afternoon, by a unanimous vote, the Duval Legislative Delegation supported a bill which would give the City Council more say on who manages the billion dollar pension fund.
"This Council believes this would provide better financial performance of the plan, lower administrative cost, and ultimately a savings for the taxpayer," said City Councilman Bill Guilliford.
Here's how the system works right now. A five member board manages the police and fire pension fund. That board is made up of two City Council appointees, a firefighter, a police officer. And the fifth member is chosen by those four.
The bill passed Friday will change that. The City Council will now nominate people to fill that fifth position. And the four other members will vote on the nominees. That was a last-minute amendment added by Senator Audrey Gibson.
"Senator Gibson came up with a good compromise," said FOP President Nelson Cuba.
The police and firefighters unions say Senator Gibson's amendment is a little better than the City Council's original request to allow it to appoint that fifth member. But they still question the Council's motives.
"I still think it's a subversive way to undermine the pension fund and get control of that money," said JAFF President Randy Wyse.
The unions worry the City will stop paying into the pension fund, and when it's time to for police officers and firefighters to retire, they won't have any money. City Councilman John Crescimbeni said that's not the goal here. "This isn't a power grab," he said. "This is about trying to put an additional person at that table that will help to work to preserve that fund so we can meet our obligations, our commitments, our promises to the officers and firefighters who are entitled to future benefits."
The issue is, who should have the majority? The taxpayer? Or a pension recipient? The bill now heads to Tallahassee.
Friday's vote does not affect current pension negotiations.