Mayor makes case for new police wage, retirement plan to rank and file

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry met with Jacksonville police officers Thursday one day after getting a cold reception for his pension replacement plan from the officers' union.

The mayor has presented a new wage and benefits package for police and firefighters that calls for a 20 percent raise over the next three years and a 401(k) plan for new hires that calls for a match from the city of up to 25 percent of the employee's salary. 

At roll call at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, officers had a chance to talk to Curry about what they think of his new plan for their future. News4Jax cameras were not allowed in, but Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams said the plan was well-received.

"They just want to be sure that this is real. But this is for real," Curry said. "And I said, 'Look I've been in office a year and a half and campaigned the year before that. I have spoken pro-law enforcement and I have been consistent with my budget in investing what we do with public safety, specifically with police."

Williams said current issues with the city's well-publicized $2.7 million pension deficit has caused issues in recruiting new officers. In the past, the Fraternal Order of Police has rejected a 401(k) as being inappropriate for public safety employees because there's no guaranteed benefit, but the sheriff says this new plan is something that needs to be considered.

"It's very strong. Very strong," Williams said. "I think you're having a lot of conversations with the men and women of the agency today who are very concerned about the benefits for new employees coming on. They still have a lot of questions and there are a lot of details to be worked up. But I think this plan with the pay and (the) benefit structure is very competitive and something they should take a very hard look at."

The FOP said it is considering the city's latest proposal. They said the plan is interesting, but they have lots of questions, particularly about whether the city can guarantee it will stick to the promise in future years.

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