JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After seven years of discussions, stops and starts, Jacksonville City Council finally came to an answer on a new agreement with the Police and Fire Pension Fund and that answer is no.
By a deadlock vote of 9 to 9 last night, the Pension deal needed a little bit more than that to pass. Now it's back to the drawing board for the Mayor if he wants this deal passed.
"Now what they will have to do, the administration, if the mayor wants to do it will be bring a bill back to council that we can look at. It can't be the same bill because this one was denied, so it can't say the same thing. But if it's a changed agreement it can be put back before the city council and we can debate it again." said city council president, Clay Yarborough.
Some council members against the bill say the one thing missing from it was a clear funding source. The current pension fund has a deficit that keeps growing- now sitting at 1.7 billion dollars. But according to the Mayors Chief of staff, the bill would have ultimately saved tax payers money while bringing that deficit down.
"They turned down an agreement which is by the way the 3rd time they've turned down a retirement reform agreement, this agreement would've saved taxpayers 1.3 billion dollars over 30 years. It would established tough new governance provisions to establish accountability at the police and fire pension fund and it would've addressed the city's unfunded liability challenge. "
The plan would have allowed current employees to keep the benefits they already have while making current and new employees pay more into the pension process.
"This was a fiscally responsible agreement and the 9 council members who voted against it were fiscally irresponsible to turn it down." said Chris Hand, the Mayors Chief of Staff.
"If we had that safety in there about adjusting this sometime in the next 10 years. I was prepared to vote in favor of it tonight."said Yarborough.
The new city council members who were elected take office July 1st. If the Mayor decides to push a new bill through, it could be in front of new faces.