Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Inequities between Pensions City Employees Want Same Plan

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Inequities between Pensions City Employees Want Same Plan

Article excerpt

Like two competitive siblings, the two pension plans that cover

Jacksonville city employees are vying for similar benefits.

Police officers and firefighters, who share a retirement plan,

secured an annual inflation increase this year for retiree

pensions, a benefit other city workers had for years.

In turn, the clerical workers, laborers and professionals who

share another pension plan want what the public safety employees

have -- the option of retiring after 20 years, regardless of

age, and the ability to connect previous work years in other

city government agencies.

Although all city employees agreed this year to salary

concessions in contract negotiations, inequities likely will

remain between the two pension plans.

The distinction is in the impact of the concessions on the

bottom line.

"All of these are individually negotiated," Mayor John Delaney

said Friday. "My job is to protect the fiscal integrity of the

city. Because someone else has a nice package, I just can't say

I'm going to give that over, too."

Concessions made by about 2,000 police officers and

firefighters -- including a one-year freeze on raises and lower

starting salaries for new hires -- saved more money than those

made by the other employee unions, Delaney said.

While he agreed to give the public safety unions an annual

inflation boost for retiree pensions, Delaney said he is not

considering a permanent, 20year retirement benefit for the

city's 6,000 general employees.

Instead, he is considering offering the incentive for a few

years.

"Any of those benefits must be negotiated, and they did not

negotiate it," he said.

Moreover, Delaney said, there are inherent differences between

the two groups of employees. Firefighters and police are in

life-threatening occupations, a factor considered when the

20-year retirement was made available to them.

Other differences, said John Keane, administrator of the Police

and Fire Pension Fund, include the employee contributions to get

the various benefits. For the first five years, the city and

pension fund will share the cost to provide the cost-of-living

adjustment for retirees. …

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