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Council committee votes down plan to celerate pension payments

Plan proposed to pay more as Jacksonville's property tax base grows

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A proposal to allow the city to begin paying off the $2.8 billion debt before the city begins collecting the voter-approved ½ cent sales tax in 2030 has been rejected by a Jacksonville City Council committee.

Changes to the Police and Fire Pension Fund and other city pension plans push future employees into 401k plans to keep the deficit from growing larger, but interest on the debt continues to grow until the balance is paid.

Councilman Danny Becton wants the city to think of the pension deficit like a credit card: The sooner its paid it off, the less you pay in interest.

"As the city is successful, I think we should use part of that success to help pay our debt for our kids and grandkids, because they're going to be looking at $5.9 billion between 2031 and 2049 when we're looking at this being paid off," Councilman Danny Becton said earlier in the week.

DOCUMENT: Becton's proposed ordinance

Becton has worked out a formula that would use a percentage of the money the city gains on property tax from increased property values to add to the annual debt payments. If that were in place this year, it would mean that $4.8 million from this year's budget would be applied to the pension deficit.

On Wednesday, council's finance committee voted down the idea, but the ordinance will get a vote before the full council, likely late this month.

Becton's plan is being introduced to council this week, and it could be voted on by the end of the month.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.