Transition begins for mayor-elect
City Council members hope to address pension reform before term ends
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The morning after voters elected Lenny Curry the next mayor of Jacksonville, City Hall began getting ready for a big change.
Transition teams are being formed and most of Mayor Alvin Brown's staff will leave at the end of June. Traditionally, the outgoing mayor's staff resigns, then the new mayor will then decide who will stay.
Curry said he is ready to get started keeping his campaign promise to address Jacksonville's violent crime problem, and that will be reflected in the budget he proposes within weeks of taking office.
"We've got to get our financial house in order and we've got to solve the violent crime and the murder problem," Curry told Bruce Hamilton on The Morning Show. "What's happening in this city is tragic. I've said from the beginning of the campaign that that would be my top priority. I'm committed to it. We're going to solve it."
Curry said he will restore officers that were cut because of funding issues. City Council members like Bill Gulliford said that will be tough given that reform of the Police and Fire Pension Fund has yet to passed, and funding that pension continues to be the biggest drain on the city budget.
"I will help any way I can, but he had made a commitment on that and it takes up funding," Gulliford said. "Again, if we don't get the pension thing resolved, it's going to take even more funding to meet that obligation, if that is where he wants to go."
Gulliford said council will try to partially resolve the pension issue in the six weeks before Curry takes office, but there's still no way to pay for it.
"I think it would be doing him a big favor because he still would have to work with us to come up with a funding source -- a permanent funding source to pay that down" Gulliford said. "But, hey, at least we get that out of the way. He's got enough problems coming down the road."
News4Jax political analyst Jennifer Carroll is not sure that's the way to go.
"We have not been able to get it done in so many years, so how are we going to do this before July?" Carroll said. "I think it is not wise to rush something like this. I think with a new mayor coming in, it gives him the opportunity to put his two cents in to see how we can get the parties together, to truly have a good pension reform that is not going to bankrupt the city."
One of the items cut from the budget in recent years was $75,000 that was to pay for the transition of administrations. Whatever money is spend in the process must now be paid from the City Council's contingency fund.
Mayor Brown was not available to talk about the transition Wednesday as he took the day off.
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