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Police union, city agree to fast-track pension talks to Police and Fire Pension Fund

Posted: April 25, 2014 - 1:49pm  |  Updated: April 25, 2014 - 10:15pm

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Jacksonville’s police union and city negotiators moved quickly Friday morning to send negotiations about pension reform to the Police and Fire Pension Fund, which could open talks with city administrators in early May.

The city’s position is that pension benefits are subject to collective bargaining with unions that represent police and firefighters.

The Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police and the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters counter that a 30-year agreement between the city and the Police and Fire Pension Fund spells out pension benefits.

Rather than argue over those positions and potentially be bogged down for years in court, the city is moving to open talks with the Police and Fire Pension Fund after the unions agree in writing to abide by the outcome of those negotiations.

“We agree to disagree, but we’re not going to let that hinder the process,” said Derrel Chatmon, chief deputy general counsel for the city.

Steve Amos, president of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police, said the right arena for talks about pension benefits is the Police and Fire Pension Fund, which administers the pension plan.

“We’re very optimistic,” Amos said. “It seems like both sides are willing to work together for a common goal.”

Mayor Alvin Brown and the Police and Fire Pension Fund reached agreement last year on pension reform that would have sharply reduced benefits for new hires. Current police and firefighters would have seen their contributions go up to 9 percent of their paychecks from 7 percent, but their retirement benefits would have stayed the same.

City Council members rejected that agreement, saying it didn’t go far enough to solve the financial problems facing the fund.

David Bauerlein: (904) 359-4581

 
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