73ºF

Rep. Janet Adkins asks Legislature for pension investigation

Lawmaker

Rep. Janet Atkins addresses workshop on Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund
Rep. Janet Atkins addresses workshop on Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ongoing problems with the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund is the subject of a meeting of state lawmakers Monday.

The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee will consider a request by Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, for an audit of the pension fund.

"Public trust has been broken, so we're simply looking for answers to these questions, primarily as it relates to the DROP (delayed retirement) benefits, and whether or not those rules that are set up have been applied appropriately," Adkins said.

The committee tabled her request for an investigation and audit into the fund until its next meeting.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Rick Scott's chief inspector general turn downed Adkins' request to investigate the pension. That request was joined by City Council President Clay Yarborough and the mayors of Atlantic and Neptune Beach.

Melinda Miguel, chief inspector general, wrote Adkins saying, "It appears that your concerns would be more appropriately handled at the local level."

The letter went on to say: "If you are aware of specific criminal violations, you may refer this information to local law enforcement or the state attorney's office."

There is a $1.6 billion deficit in funding Jacksonville's retired police and firefighters, and the struggle to reach an agreement between the city and the pension fund has dragged on for years. The board reached an agreement with Mayor Alvin Brown in June 2013, but it was negotiated in private meetings and found to be in violation of Florida's Sunshine Law. It was subsequently rejected by the City Council.

A new agreement reached last summer has been approved once by the City Council, but the pension fund has pushed back for changes, including cost-of-living changes and the length of the agreement.

"Clearly, the public trust is broken as it relates to how the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund has handled its responsibilities," Adkins said. "While I am disappointed that the Chief Inspector General has decided not to investigate the concerns I raised regarding the Jacksonville Fire and Police Pension Fund, I am committed to seeking a review of the pension fund and the questions that have surfaced over the last year."