JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Pension reform is once again a hot topic at City Hall. Mayor Brown promised to have a plan in place by the end of the year, and this week he has started unveiling his proposals. First to the police union, and Tuesday to the union representing the city's general employees.
Mayor Brown says retirement reform is necessary to keep the city from going bankrupt. "We have to do what's right for the taxpayers, those who foot the bill," he said.
Calling the current system "unsustainable," he presented a new proposal to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME.
In short, the Mayor's plan would eliminate cost of living increases, raise employee pension contributions from 8% to 12%, and it would make employees wait until they are 62 years old to collect their benefits.
AFSCME members didn't like the idea of the city taking more money out of their paychecks. AFSCME President Arthur Finley said, "No. No. No. Bottom line, some of them cannot afford it."
AFSCME board member Alecia Tremble agreed, "I'm not pleased with it, as a city employee or an AFSCME member."
An FSU pension study gave Jacksonville an "F" for having a program that it cant afford. Mayor Brown says he knows people are struggling, but he hopes they see the big picture. "The light at the end of the tunnel is having a viable new retirement plan that is sustainable," he said.
Mayor Brown says the AFSCME proposal will save $1 billion over the next 30 years. He says the FOP proposal presented Monday will save $1.5 billion over the same amount of time.
However, this reform won't happen without a fight. Negotiations have just begun.
The firefighters union has yet to receive its proposal. Dates are still being worked out.