Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Search to Replace Keane as Head of Fire Pension Fund Coming to an End; the Board Unanimously Voted to Offer a Contract to Lynn Wenguer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Search to Replace Keane as Head of Fire Pension Fund Coming to an End; the Board Unanimously Voted to Offer a Contract to Lynn Wenguer

Article excerpt

Byline: Eileen Kelley

If all goes as planned, the face of the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Plan - the actions and the tenor - will be very different in the months to come than it is today.

John Keane is on his way out, and the person tapped to replace him is quite different.

For starters Lynn Wenguer is a state-certified public accountant while Keane was a firefighter turned pension fund executive director.

Wenguer, who has combined 31 years experience overseeing pension plans - first for the city of Miami Beach General Employees Retirement System and then later with the of the city of Fort Lauderdale's Police & Fire Retirement System - is set to make between $175,000 to $200,000 annually. She currently makes $132,000 in Fort Lauderdale.

Keane, who led the pension fund for the past 25 years, was making $309,000 annually.

However the board had previously decided that, because that salary was not comparable to other pension administrators, whoever replaced Keane would have to make less.

Keane hasn't made under $200,000 annually since 2005. In 2012, Wenguer happened to weigh in on Keane's salary in a Times-Union story about his getting a pay raise, bringing his annual income to $283,000.

"I don't think you'd find anyone in the state of Florida making that," Wenguer told the paper then.

While both grew up Jacksonville, Wenguer, after graduating from the University of Florida, headed to South Florida for her career; Keane in 1962 joined the Sheriff's Office. After working in the identification bureau, he went on to serve warrants. In 1968 he became a firefighter and was active in union matters. In 1990, he became the pension fund's first executive director after the fund broke many of the ties with the city, which previously administered the retirement program.

Even though she moved to South Florida for her career, Wenguer maintained strong ties in Jacksonville. Her mother still resides here, and her adult son recently started a job in the area.

While Keane and Wenguer are friendly with each other in the world of pension administrators, their roles will be different.

Wenguer, assuming she takes the job, will not negotiate pension benefits for the fund's members, something Keane has done - and not the unions - since the 1990s.

And perhaps of equal importance to those who have publicly wrung their hands at Keane and the board over the years, Wenguer won't be part of the controversial and long-secret pension that Keane helped create for himself and his deputy assistant in 2000. Instead, she will be part of the city's general retirement plan or she could participate in a defined contribution plan that is similar to the private sector's 401k plan.

But first, Wenguer must say yes to the job.

Friday, she seemed ready to. …

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