Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; Vote Yes for a Better Present and Future

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; Vote Yes for a Better Present and Future

Article excerpt

Byline: Jimmy Midyette

Interest in County Referendum 1 is high.

Intertwined with the policy discussion have been personality clashes, party politics and a mistrust that reflects the fault lines just below the surface of our civic landscape.

It is best to leave aside these distractions and focus instead on the policy.

We collectively owe $2.85 billion in pension benefits to our public servants and first responders.

The median age of a Jacksonville resident is 35. The systemic problems that created this situation began before most residents were born. A 35-year-old will outlive the pension obligation.

The only question is this:

How best to solve the problem?

Residents should vote yes on the pension ballot question. Our history shows that we need a dedicated funding stream. We need money that can't be redirected by future leaders. Extending an existing tax is preferable to adding to the tax burden of residents.

I support this plan, proposed by Mayor Lenny Curry's administration and unanimously approved by a bipartisan City Council, for many reasons.

They include:

LONG HISTORY

- Our pension troubles began before millennials were born; they date back to decisions made in the consolidation era.

Paying off the pension liability will happen in millennials' lifetime under this bipartisan plan.

As it is, we're paying the half-cent sales tax for Better Jacksonville Plan expenses through 2030. Under the proposed plan, we begin to realize budget savings next year.

- Payments to the pension fund account for $260 million this year. Next year that bumps up to $293 million. This is unsustainable, especially since we should pay only $80 million per year for pension costs.

- Recently, the city saved $1.5 billion in future costs through benefit changes. The pension plan puts that $1. …

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