Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pension Chief's Pay Hike Raises Eyebrows; City's Police, Fire Fund Manager Didn't Ask for It, but Budget Hawks Object

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pension Chief's Pay Hike Raises Eyebrows; City's Police, Fire Fund Manager Didn't Ask for It, but Budget Hawks Object

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Patterson

The pension administrator for Jacksonville's police and firefighters will bank about $44,000 more this year after a pair of pay raises that boosted his annual salary to $283,000.

That's making budget hawks fume and even surprising some counterparts across the state.

"I don't think you'd find anyone in the state of Florida making that," said Lynn Wenguer, fund administrator for Fort Lauderdale's police and fire pension system.

John Keane said he didn't ask for the raise and that it was recommended by a company the fund pays for advice on compensation.

"It's just how things are," he said.

It's that way because the fund pays Keane by averaging the salaries of the top executives at three other agencies - the Jacksonville Port Authority, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.

"Executive parallelism I think is the word. ... It's been going on for a long time," Keane said. He said he has to be more versatile than the heads of those larger agencies, noting he deals with other agencies and with news outlets without government affairs or public information staff that other agencies have.

But Keane doesn't manage nearly the number of people the other agencies do, said City Councilman John Crescimbeni.

"I don't think any pay raises are warranted at this point," Crescimbeni said.

"To base the compensation of the police and fire pension fund manager on the compensation of ... [heads of] three completely unrelated operations is in itself a joke."

Most Florida cities don't have full-time administrators for public safety pensions, said Jennifer Campbell, who earns $125,000 as administrator for Tampa's $1.4 billion Fire and Police Pension Fund.

Jacksonville's fund balance was listed at $783 million in a 2010 annual report completed last year.

Because it's hard to compare those jobs to others in the same city, Campbell said, fund administrators in Florida informally mail surveys to themselves every year or two to see what the going salary is. …

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