Like a ton of U.S. cities, Jacksonville, Florida is facing a big fiscal hole, in this case a $60 million budget deficit. The reason is not hard to fathom: Despite increases in revenue, increases in spending have been way, way, bigger.
Costs will jump 35 percent over the next five years, according to city estimates, though revenue will only go up 10 percent....
The Police and Fire Pension Fund is arguably the expense most firmly in [Mayor] Peyton’s scope as he continues to push pension reform, citing the cost as one of the city’s biggest expenses.
The city’s contribution to pensions for all employees was about $40 million when Peyton took office. This year, it’s $110 million.
“You’re spending more and more every year just to stay afloat,” said Robert Weissert, general counsel and communications director for Florida TaxWatch, a Tallahassee-based nonprofit that analyzes government spending.
TaxWatch studied Jacksonville finances in 2008 and its report was highly critical of pension spending. It recommended 401(k) style plans instead.
What a sad story, especially for the folks in Jacksonville who aren't in the pension fund or in the other positions that are making out so swell. Good luck on getting that defined-contribution plan in place, boys and girls, because you're going need it.
So what's a city to do? Well, how about clamping down on internet cafes that are accused of being little more than ways for people to gamble? There's a bunch of such joints that charge $12 an hour for online access and give customers hundreds of "sweepstake entries" whose results are displayed via mesmerizing digital displays that are shockingly like slot machines. Hence the Jacksonville City Council is crafting new legislation creating a
Thank god, some legislators are really still on top of their game, despite chronic budget shortfalls.
Hat tip: Curtis Wolf.
As Jacksonville's greatest gift might ask, What's that smell? Don't look down, Jacksonville voters, 'cuz you're steppin in it. If only more legislators took 'ludes, no?