<!-- Swiftype Variables -->

DEFINED BENEFIT

Jacksonville City Retirement System unions approve closing pension plan to new hires

Passage follows approval by police, fire unions; City Council vote awaits

Jacksonville (Fla.) City Retirement System may close to new hires on Oct. 1 following approval of a city proposal by the memberships of two city unions, said Tia Ford, spokeswoman for Mayor Lenny Curry, in an email.

The memberships of the local chapters of the Laborers' International Union of North America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers approved the new contract following a vote on March 23-24. The closing of the $2 billion retirement system, which consists of the general employees and corrections officer pension funds, is now pending City Council review and approval, Ms. Ford said.

The retirement system would close on Sept. 30, 2017, and employees hired on or after Oct. 1 would be automatically enrolled in the city's $24 million 401(a) plan. According to a Jan. 26 proposal by Mr. Curry, new employees in the 401(a) plan would contribute 8% and the city would contribute 12%. Current employees would stay in the pension plan but their contributions increase to 10% from 8% under the mayor's proposal.

The $1.8 billion Jacksonville Police & Fire Pension Fund is also scheduled to close on Oct. 1 pending City Council approval, following earlier membership approvals from the local chapters of the Fraternal Order of Police and International Association of Fire Fighters.

The proposals for closing the city's pension funds made by the mayor's office are the beginning of a process to comply with requirements established in a referendum passed by city voters Aug. 31. The referendum created a half-cent sales tax that will be used exclusively to fully fund the city's three pension funds.

Ms. Ford could not immediately provide further information on when the City Council is expected to vote to close the plans.