Like firefighters, Jacksonville police could soon be looking at a big raise and a return to a pension plan for new hires

JACKSONVILLE, FL. – It’s likely that lifeguards in Jacksonville will get a raise next year, and it looks like pensions will come back into play as well.

This is all part of the negotiations the city is conducting with the police and trade unions.

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Last week, firefighters announced they could receive a significant raise if their new contract is approved, and police departments are moving in the same direction.

Pensions for new employees, which have been controversial in the past, may return.

In 2016, residents voted to extend the half-cent sales tax to pay off pension debt, and then new police officers and firefighters were introduced to the 401k plan. Well, this may evolve again. What’s happening now is pensions may be reimbursed not by the city, but by the state, and Mayor Donna Deegan is gaining recognition.

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The city will continue negotiations with the police department for a new contract later this week and, like firefighters, they are expected to receive a significant raise and return to a pension plan for new hires in three years. That pension plan is part of the Florida Retirement System (FRS), which the union leader says is essential for recruiting.

“It means a lot to us locally,” said Randy Reaves, local FOP president. “This brings us in line with the remaining 66 of the 67 counties in Florida that have pensions and defined benefits. Seven years ago, the previous administration assured us that we would move away from pensions and that we would be the first of many agencies to move away from pensions. Seven years later, here we are and we are still the only county in the state of Florida that does not provide certain benefits for emergency responders.”

The same was agreed last week regarding firefighters.

It still has to be voted on by union members and the city council will have to approve it, but it looks like anything will happen.

“When I was running for mayor, I said I wanted to look at this carefully, that I was listening to the unions and they felt very strongly that in order to recruit and retain people, they had to get back to some type of work. pensions,” Deegan said. “FRS made the most sense to me then and it makes the most sense to me now. In all of these discussions, we’ve been trying to find a way to get to the point where we can include that, and I think that’s where we’re headed.

News4JAX political analyst Rick Mullaney has followed this retirement story for years.

“The challenge here is really two questions: First, how much will it cost? And secondly, how are you going to pay for it?” Mullaney said.

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The mayor’s staff says they have some calculations, but not exact numbers. It all depends on how many employees sign up in three years. Mullaney pointed out that there are also other high-ticket elements involved, such as the stadium and the prison.

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