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Jacksonville's Mayor says pension reform is the solution

11:14 AM, Jul 15, 2013   |    comments
Mayor Brown discussed pension reform at Thursday news conference when asked by First Coast News
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Mayor Alvin Brown told the City Council Monday morning that tax increases or spending cuts were not the solution for Jacksonville's financial challenges.

The solution he said was the pending retirement reform agreement, which would save $1.2 billion over 30 years and $45 million next year.

"Tax increases are not the solution. Deep spending cuts are not the solution. The solution is reform," said Mayor Brown in his annual budget remarks. "We should be making it easier - not harder - for our neighbors to find economic success."

At $181 million the pension obligations represent nearly 20 percent of the City's general fund budget, a news release from the Mayor's Office said. The release detailed that $148.1 million of the pension is for the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund.

Mayor Brown presented an agreement in May that would reform public safety pensions and save $1.2 billion over 30 years, including saving $45 million in the 2013-14 budget and $100 million during the next 5 years.

"I don't want to make these cuts," the Mayor told Council members. "You don't want to make these cuts. They are not acceptable for the long-term good of our city."

According to the release, without the reform the city would need to close a more than $60 million deficit. The proposed cuts include closing branch libraries, fire stations and community centers.

Mayor Brown stressed that Jacksonville is experiencing clear signs of economic recovery, the release said. The unemployment rate has fallen from 11.2 percent in July 2011 to 7 percent now.

According to the release, the City Council will review the proposed budget. The final budget needs to be approved before the end of September, since the next fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Want to weigh in on the Mayor's proposed budget? Here's how:

Mayor Alvin Brown

Bill Gulliford, City Council President

Clay Yarborough, City Council Vice President

Greg Anderson, City Council Finance Committee Chair

First Coast News

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